GLENDALE — On a cool night in Glendale, the top seed in Class 4A, Peoria Sunrise Mountain, faced fourth-seeded Salpointe Catholic with an appearance in the state championship game on the line.
Sunrise Mountain scored two touchdowns in the first eight minutes for a quick 14-0 lead.
However, Salpointe found its footing with its running game.
First, the Lancers got a 60-yard touchdown run from Bijan Robinson. That sparked a string of 21 straight points for the Lancers.
The Mustangs were done in by turnovers and defensive lapses in the second half, which led to an eventual 49-27 victory for Salpointe.
Salpointe will carry this victory into the state championship, where they will meet Scottsdale Saguaro on Dec. 2 at the Arizona Stadium.
Salpointe running back Bijan Robinson stepped it up for his team after they trailed 14-0. Robinson had runs of 60, 54, 26 and 20, all in the first half. He continued his success in the second half with an additional 10 carries and ended the game with over 200 yards on the ground.
Feeding off his fellow running back’s success, the Lancers’ Mario Padilla ripped off touchdown runs of 54 and 60 yards to ice the game. Padilla finished the game with more than 175 yards on the ground.
Despite the hot start for Sunrise Mountain and quarterback Keegan Freid, turnovers were their downfall. In the second half, Freid fumbled the ball twice in the red zone and three times overall.
Salpointe coach Dennis Bene stayed patient during Salpointe’s slugging first few drives.
”They don’t call plays but (my assistants) were feeding me information and were like, ‘Coach, it’s there,” he said. “Just be patient (and) stay with it and they were right on.”