Nighthawks 24-21 lose in semi-finals - The Explorer: Sports

Nighthawks 24-21 lose in semi-finals

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Posted: Wednesday, November 23, 2011 4:00 am

Battling for a ticket to the Division II State Championship on Nov. 18, the Ironwood Ridge Nighthawks went up against the Cienega Bobcats in the semi-final round.

Going into the game, Nighthawks’ quarterback Tyler Williams said he expected a “dogfight.”

“They are here because they are a good team, and we were here tonight because we are a good team,” he said. “We knew it would be a battle, and that’s what it was.”

The Nighthawks set the tone early, turning to workhorse Mitch Fischer on offense.  Fischer carried the ball three times on the first drive. On the third run, Fischer sprinted outside to run 40 yards to paydirt.

The Nighthawks led 7-0 with 10:02 left in the opening quarter.

After Cienega fumbled on the first offensive drive, the Nighthawks capitalized eight plays later when Fischer pounded the ball into the end zone from one yard out.

Fischer finished the game with 222 yards on 34 carries.

Leading 14-0 with 6:14 left in the opening quarter, the Bobcats found themselves in a hole.

The Bobcats’ offense bounced back in the ensuing driving, with Manny Vera scoring a six-yard touchdown to cap off an 11-play drive. With the extra point, the Nighthawks’ lead was cut to 14-7 with 11:38 left in the first half.

After the Cienega defense forced a quick three and out, the Bobcats got on the board again when quarterback Michael Archie connected with Edgar Poe for a 35-yard strike. With 7:47 left in the first half, the score was tied at 14.

The Nighthawks’ offense got into the red zone, but on fourth down, Coach Matt Johnson called for the field goal. The Cienega defense blocked the kick, and a scamper for the ball ensued, with the Bobcats recovering near midfield.

Before halftime, the Bobcats scored on a 25-yard field goal attempt to lead 17-14.

At the start of the third quarter, the Bobcats were poised to score again. With a third and goal, Archie put the ball up for grabs in the corner of the end zone. Nighthawks’ defender John Klass came down with the interception.

Klass, a junior, said, “I was playing my position, doing my job and was glad to be there to make a play we needed.”

With no score in the third quarter, it wasn’t until late in the fourth quarter that the Nighthawks got some momentum.

On third down, Fischer capped off an eight-play drive, leaping over the pile from one yard out, giving the Nighthawks the 21-17 lead with 8:15 left in the game.

With time running out, Cienega needed a touchdown. With the drive starting at the 29-yard-line, Archie went to work.

After six plays, Bobcats’ coach Nemer Hassey was faced with a tough decision, as Cienega faced a fourth-and-seven. With five minutes, and some change on the clock, Hassey opted to go for it.

Archie connected with Jalen Rogers for the first down.

After the game, Hassey said the decision to go for it was because of Fischer and the Nighthawks’ offense.

“We knew we weren’t going to stop them,” he said. “They had the momentum, and we knew we had to make that play if we were going to go on and win the game.”

Archie capitalized on the risky fourth-down call three plays later when he threw a 35-yard pass to Poe in the end zone. Poe beat the defender to make a diving go-ahead touchdown grab.

With just over three minutes to play, the Nighthawks still had a chance.

Before taking the field on the last drive, Williams said he wasn’t surprised Cienega didn’t give up, and he expected it to come down to the final minutes.

Instead of Williams taking the snaps as he has all season, Jake Matthews stepped behind center.

Johnson said Matthews had to take the snaps because Williams was unable to throw the ball due to an injury sustained a week earlier.

Johnson dialed up three consecutive passing plays, with Matthews being sacked for a big loss on second down, setting up a third and 17.

Fischer came down with a reception to get 15 of those yards on third down, but the Nighthawks still faced a fourth and two.

Handing the ball to Fischer on fourth down, the Cienega defense swarmed the line of scrimmage. Fischer was inches short, giving Cienega the 24-21 victory, and a ticket to play Chapparal for the state championship on Saturday, Nov. 24.

After losing three consecutive years in the state semi-finals, this will be Cienega’s first trip to state.

After the game, Johnson said, “While we would have liked to have gone a game further, I am proud of this team.  We are proud of the seniors and their effort.”

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HS Schedule

Tuesday, September 16

Boys Golf (@ 3 p.m.)

Buena, Cienega at Marana

Mountain View, Ironwood Ridge, Catalina at Amphi (Silverbell GC)

Catalina Foothills, Pueblo, Sahuarita at Sahuaro

Girls Volleyball (Fr 4 p.m., JV 5 p.m., Var 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

Mountain View at Rio Rico

Ironwood Ridge at Glendale Ironwood

Swimming (@4 p.m.)

Pusch Ridge, Sahuarita at Desert Christian

Wednesday, September 17

Girls Golf (@ 3 p.m.)

Rincon at CDO

Ironwood Ridge, Desert View at Flowing Wells (Silverbell)

Cross Country (@4:30)

Salpointe at Catalina Foothills

Palo Verde, Nogales at Marana

Rincon, St. Gregory at CDO

Sahuarita, Pueblo, Pusch Ridge at Desert View

Girls Volleyball (Fr 4 p.m., JV 5 p.m., Var 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

Empire at Marana (4:30, 5:30, 6:30)

CDO at Queen Creek

Cienega at Mountain View

Sahuaro at Catalina Foothills

Walden Grove at Pusch Ridge

Thursday, September 18

Girls Golf

CDO, Ironwood Ridge at Phoenix Aguila Invitational (all day)

Boys Golf

Sahuaro and Salpointe at Ironwood Ridge

CDO, Rincon, Sunnyside at Tucson High

Girls Volleyball (Fr 4 p.m., JV 5 p.m., Var 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

Marana at Sahuarita

Ironwood Ridge at Sahuaro (4:30, 5:30, 6:30)

Catalina Foothills at Rincon

Pusch Ridge at San Manuel

Swimming (4 p.m.)

Marana vs. Tucson at Quincy Douglas Pool

Cienega at Marana

CDO, Ironwood Ridge at Amphi

Catalina Foothills at Sahuaro

Freshman Football (all games at 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

Flowing Wells at Marana (4 p.m.)

Desert View at Mountain View

Cienega at CDO

Ironwood Ridge at Buena

Catalina Foothills at Sahuarita

JV Football (all games at 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

Amphi at Marana

Santa Cruz Valley at Pusch Ridge

Mountain View at Desert View

CDO at Cienega

Buena at Ironwood Ridge

Sahuarita at Catalina Foothills

Friday, September 19

Boys Golf

Catalina Foothills, Ironwood Ridge, CDO, at Phoenix Aguila Invitational (all day)

Cross Country

Mountain View, Ironwood Ridge at Mt. Carmel Invitational (San Diego, CA)

Girls Volleyball

CDO at Westwood Tournament of Champions

Football (@7 p.m.)

Pusch Ridge at Santa Cruz Valley

Catalina at Marana

Desert Vista at Mountain View

Ironwood Ridge at Buena

Cienega at CDO

Catalina Foothills at Sahuarita

Saturday, September 20

Boys Golf

Catalina Foothills, Ironwood Ridge, CDO, at Phoenix Aguila Invitational (all day)

Cross Country

Marana at Old Pueblo Invite(Lincoln Park)

Mountain View at San Diego

Catalina Foothills, CDO at Ojo Rojo (Chandler, AZ)


Marana at Wolves Classic (Chandler High)

Girls Volleyball

CDO at Westwood Tournament of Champions


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