PHOENIX — Buoyed by a stout defense and relentless running game, No. 9 Pusch Ridge Christian advanced to the Division V state quarterfinals with a 28-6 win over No. 8 Phoenix Bourgade Catholic on Saturday.
Senior Connor Reilly ran for 155 yards and three touchdowns for the Lions (9-1), who have won eight consecutive games. Pusch Ridge advances to face No. 1 seed Arizona Lutheran, which defeated No. 16 Hopi 60-6 on Saturday night.
“We’re not the biggest team, but we did what we had to do against a tough, physical football team,” Pusch Ridge coach Troy Cropp said.
Despite facing a size disadvantage up front, the Pusch Ridge defense was able to dominate the line of scrimmage and neutralize a Bourgade rushing attack that had been averaging 218 yards per game in the regular season.
The Golden Eagles (8-3), who were missing star senior tailback Saul Rascon, finished with only 45 yards on the ground.
“I thought our defense played a heck of a game tonight,” Cropp said. “When you shut down a team’s running game then you force them to pass, which they hadn’t done a lot of this season.”
The Lions led 14-6 at halftime, but Bourgade entered the break on a positive note thanks to a late blocked punt that gave the Golden Eagles the ball inside Pusch Ridge’s 10-yard line.
Sophomore quarterback Luke Dreher found Joshua Sanders for a 9-yard touchdown to bring Bourgade within eight, but that would be the closest the Golden Eagles would get.
Pusch Ridge will now attempt to reach the state semifinals for the first time in school history. It will be a challenge: Arizona Lutheran scores over 50 points per game.
“We’re going to have our hands full with them, but I think this team can play with any team in the division,” Cropps said.
Winslow 38, Sahuarita 14: At Winslow, senior wide receiver Milo Fragoso hauled in eight receptions for 84 yards and a touchdown as the home team eliminated Sahuarita from the playoffs. The Mustangs finished the regular season first in Division IV Section II for the first time in 41 years.
Snowflake 50, Rio Rico 20: At Snowflake, Rio Rico’s first-ever trip to the playoffs ended with a loss.