Sahuaro took advantage of three interceptions and one fumble recovery in the second half to blow out No. 13-seeded Chandler Seton Catholic Prep 63-19 in the Class 4A quarterfinals on Friday.
The No. 5-seeded Cougars will play in the state semifinals for the first time since 1999 — before any of their players were born — and will go up against No. 1 Salpointe Catholic at Mountain View High School on Friday.
The Lancers routed No. 9 Mingus Union 62-22 to move on to the Final Four.
“It feels amazing,” Sahuaro senior Cameron Williams said. “I feel like we were a little bit slow in the first half, a lot of penalties coming through it, but once we pulled ourselves together and fixed those, I knew we were going to be in great shape.”
Williams scored twice in the first half, on touchdown runs of 19 and 2 yards, while the Sentinels scored on two long field goals (41 and 38 yards) and a touchdown reception. But a two-point conversion was unsuccessful, and Sahuaro led 14-12 at the half.
Sahuaro coach Scott McKee said the team got too caught up with early penalties, but he believed in the team’s conditioning and in his coaching staff to get through the second half.
“I knew those guys would get it,” McKee said. “We just needed to keep plugging away.”
Seton Catholic scored on its opening drive in the second half, but that was the last time the Cougars allowed them to add to the board.
Then the show started.
Williams scored again on a 19-yard rush. An interception by Jakob Goerke was followed on the next play by 34-yard reception by Amir Hunter-Higgins. Then Goerke scored on an 80-yard run with less than a minute left in the third quarter.
Avery Ndisabiye picked up an interception of his own on the Sentinel’s first play of the ensuing possession.
After Williams scored a fourth time, Ndisabiye recovered a fumble during Seton Catholic’s next possession as the Cougars continued to run away with the game.
“I think the tipping point was definitely the defensive interceptions,” Williams said. “When we got those, I saw everyone going wild and we were getting lit. (We got) more momentum and we kept grinding it out.”
Izaiah Davis led the running game with 246 yards on 23 carries and one touchdown. Williams finished the night with 88 yards on 12 carries. He scored four times and had one interception.
Next week’s semifinal game will be a rematch against the Lancers. Sahuaro played undefeated Salpointe during Week 7 and walked away on the losing end of a 28-12 score.
McKee said the biggest takeaway from the last game was trying to find a way to settle in. The atmosphere and game got too big for the Cougars.
“We know our work is cut out for us and we just want to have an opportunity to play better than we played last (time),” McKee said.