The Ironwood Ridge High School football team edged Scottsdale’s Notre Dame Prep 21-14 in a home playoff game last Thursday. The important win guaranteed the Nighthawks a spot in the semi finals of the Division II playoffs.

Led by Mitch Fischer’s 302 yards rushing, the Nighthawks broke open the game with two touchdowns in the third quarter. In the opening minute of the second half, the running back went around the left side for a 75-yard touchdown run.

Later in the quarter, Fisher scored another touchdown, which culminated in an 80-yard, 12-play drive.

The game started with a scoreless first quarter, impacted by turnovers by both teams. Notre Dame’s first possession resulted in a three and out, but Ironwood Ridge fumbled the punt return, allowing Notre Dame to take over on Ironwood Ridge’s 25-yard line.

Shortly afterward, Ironwood Ridge recovered from this mistake when Jake Matthews intercepted a pass from Notre Dame quarterback Jordan Gehrke.

A two-yard dive by Fischer capped a 95-yard drive, and gave the nighthawks a 7-0 lead late in the second quarter. Notre Dame responded with a touchdown on a pass from Gehrke to Grant Martinez, which capped a 72-yard, 12-play drive.

This tied the game 7-7, with 25 seconds left in the first half.

The third quarter began with an exciting touchdown in the first minute. It was followed later in the quarter by another touchdown, this one featuring a 21-yard run by quarterback Tyler Williams. Williams led the offense on an 80-yard, 12-play drive, which ended with another touchdown run by Fischer.

However, Notre Dame did not give up, as they managed to secure a touchdown with 11 seconds remaining in the third after a 19-yard run by Nick Cole.

The Nighthawks’ defense, tough throughout the game, tightened up in the scoreless fourth quarter to secure the 21-14 win.

Scott Simmons, who had two sacks for a loss in the quarter, and a notable tackle on a goal line stand in the second quarter, helped lead the defense.

The road to winning a state championship only gets harder from here, as the Nighthawks prepare to face number two seed Cienega High School Friday night.

Cienega finished the regular season undefeated, and is ranked behind Chapparal in Division II.

The game will be played at a neutral location, with Tucson High School hosting the playoff game. Kick off is 7 p.m.

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