The Ironwood Ridge High School Nighthawks football team is well on its way to the second round of the Division II State Playoffs, after easily defeating Apollo Friday night.

The Nighthawks came out firing, taking a quick, 21-0 lead in the first quarter.

The Nighthawks’ running game was on fire, gaining 392 yards, with Mitch Fisher leading the charge with 231 yards.

Apollo finally got on the board at the start of the second quarter, scoring from 5 yards out.

With the Nighthawks leading 21-7 with 11:55 left in the first half, Ironwood Ridge quarterback Tyler Williams answered right back.

The junior quarterback ran left to stretch the defense, only to run into a string of defenders. Switching directions, Williams scampered 74 yards up the right sideline to score, putting the Nighthawks up 28-7 with 10:08 left in the half.

Williams had finished the game with 127 rushing yards, and 59 passing yards.

Before halftime, Apollo scored a second touchdown when quarterback Jon Brown found Sam Martinez for a short pass. Martinez turned what appeared to be a short gain into an 83-yard touchdown.

With 1:40 left in the half, Apollo cut the Nighthawks’ lead to 28-14 just before halftime.

In the second half, Nighthawks’ kicker Brandon Sluder split the uprights to make a field goal, putting Ironwood Ridge up 31-14.

Fischer sealed the Nighthawks’ victory with a 25-yard touchdown run with time ticking down in the third, putting Ironwood Ridge up 37-14.

The Nighthawks and Apollo would score again, giving Ironwood Ridge the 43-20 victory.

Jake Matthews also had a big night for the Nighthawks, with a fumble recovery for a touchdown, a touchdown on offense, and two catches for 34 yards.

With the victory, the Nighthawks will move on to face Notre Dame in the second round.

Notre Dame, the 14th seed, upset third seed Salpointe 33-14 Friday night.

Notre Dame, a Scottsdale team, finished the regular season 7-4.

Because Ironwood Ridge is a higher seed than Notre Dame, they will host the second round this Thursday at 7 p.m.

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