A 20-point deficit in the first half was too much for the Ironwood Nighthawks to overcome in Friday’s final game of the regular season against Salpointe Catholic.
With time ticking down in the first quarter, Anthony Beck ran in another Lancers’ touchdown, giving Salpointe a 13-0 lead.
In the second quarter, quarterback Andrew Cota connected with Beck for an 11-yard touchdown, pushing the Lancers to a commanding 20-0 lead over the Nighthawks.
The Ironwood Ridge offense got some momentum in the final drive of the half, turning to go-to player Mitch Fischer. The Nighthawks rushed their way to the Lancers’ 22-yard line, where the drive stalled when quarterback Tyler Williams was sacked for a big loss.
Facing a 4th and 14, the Nighthawks’ opted for a field goal try. Right as the ball was snapped on the first attempt, which missed to wide left, the Lancers called a timeout.
On the second attempt, kicker Brandon Sluder split the uprights just as time expired in the first half.
With Salpointe leading 20-3, the Nighthawks started the third quarter with the ball and all the momentum.
Going back to Fischer, Coach Matt Johson dialed up the senior tailback for six consecutive plays.
With the ball near midfield on the seventh play of the drive, the Lancers’ defense expected another run. Taking advantage, Williams connected with receiver Adam Burgess for 18 yards and a first down in Lancers’ territory.
Williams capped off the 10-play drive weaving through the Lancers’ defense for a 19-yard touchdown.
With the extra point, the Lancers’ lead was cut to 10 with 8:44 left in the third.
In the Lancers’ next offensive possession, Salpointe was driving near midfield when lead receiver Cameron Denson was ejected for punching a Nighthawks’ player.
Two plays later, the Nighthawks’ defense caught another break when Tyler Johnson stripped the ball, and Tyler Otuafi recovered the fumble.
Starting near midfield, the Nighthawks’ offense went to work, with Fischer and Williams running the ball deep into Lancers’ territory. After getting inside the Lancers’ 10-yard line, the Nighthawks drive stalled.
Facing a 4th and 1 at the 7-yard-line, Coach Johnson called for the field goal. Sluder’s kick was good, giving the Nighthawks 13 unanswered points, and closing the gap at 20-13 with 1:10 left in the third.
However, the comeback efforts ended in the next Lancers’ drive when Cota scored from inside the 1-yard-line with 8:38 left in the game.
The Lancers came away with the victory, winning 27-13.
The Nighthawks finished the regular season at 8-2, and will be facing a tough division in the playoffs, which being Nov. 4.
In other games throughout the region, Canyon Del Oro High School dismantled Amphitheater in a 49-0 beating.
Mountain View shut out Cholla 39-0.