Pusch Ridge wins finale - The Explorer: Sports

Pusch Ridge wins finale

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Posted: Wednesday, October 31, 2012 9:54 am

Sophomore Taylor Fitzgerald made sure that Pusch Ridge wouldn’t lose on Senior Night.

Fitzgerald ran for 195 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries. He also caught two passes for 72 yards.

The Lions (6-4) trailed 10-7 to Rico Rico at halftime, before catching fire in the second half and winning 48-37.

When quarterback Mark Gastellum ran 60 yards on the second play of the second half, it was 17-7 in favor of the Hawks.

Were the Lions concerned?

“During halftime,” Fitzgerald said. “We said believe. We drove the ball and got the momentum back.”

The Lions passing game had struggled in the first half when they completed only one pass. But things changed on the Lions first possession of the second half.

Quarterback Jake Frithsen completed a 19-yard pass on the right side to Fitzgerald which took the ball down to the Hawks 16-yard line. On the next play, Frithsen rolled left and found Grayson Barghols for a 16-yard touchdown. The kick by Aaron Penazek made it 17-14 with 8:19 left in the third. Barghols had earlier scored on a 43-yard touchdown reception on a pass from Frithsen.

An interception by Kif Nichols set up the go-ahead touchdown for the Lions.

Fitzgerald caught a pass and raced 21 yards down to the four-yard line. A few plays later, Connor Reilly ran it in from three yards out to give the Lions the lead at 21-17. 

Frithsen was four for 10 for 131 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.

Perhaps the most critical point in the game came on the ensuing kickoff. On their previous kickoff, the Lions had kicked a touchback. This time around they went for the onside kick.

They had earlier tried an onside kick and failed, giving the ball to Rio Rico in great field position.

This time it worked.

“Momentum was important,” said Lions coach Troy Cropp. “We did it to keep the momentum.”

“They’re very big and physical. For us, we had to create opportunities.”

After the kick recovery, Fitzgerald broke off runs of 15 and 17 yards, respectively, setting up another three-yard touchdown run by Connor Reilly for a 28-17 lead.

“We drove the ball and got the momentum back,” Fitzgerald said. “Our offensive line executed well.”

“It sets up the pass. The run sets up everything.”

Joey Lowery added 67 yards rushing, while Connor Reilly added 54. The Lions finished with 344 yards rushing overall.

With momentum on their side, the Lions ended up scoring 34 unanswered points.

Fitzgerald broke a 61-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter, which left many observers shaking their heads in disbelief. It also gave the Lions what seemed like a commanding 34-17 lead.

Fitzgerald’s offensive total was 267 yards, not to mention an additional 66 on kickoff returns.

Defensively, the Lions biggest challenge was trying to stop the Hawks Aaron Fanning.

The Lions entered the game with a shot at the playoffs, despite an 0-3 start under first year coach Troy Cropp.

“We don’t know about our chances,” Cropp said after the game. “There were three or four teams ahead of us with tough games on their schedules.”

When the selections came out over the weekend, the Lions did not qualify for the Division V playoffs.

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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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