For those that showed up at Paradise Valley at 3 PM on Friday, they got their money's worth. A thriller that went down to the wire, and saw Williams Field advance to the 4A2 state title game in just their second varsity season.
The scoring started early, with Williams Field driving the field behind the legs of RB Alex Howard. He scored on a 10 yard run that capped off a 7 minute drive. 7-0 WF.
Notre Dame answered, using a variety of players, including QB Jordan Gerhke, WR Brian Poupore, TE Grant Martinez, WR Brian Canavan but it would be big RB Brett Berry that got in the endzone on a 9 yard run. Tied 7-7.
A squib kick gave the Black Hawks a short field and a pass interference call gave them the ball inside the 5. And on 4th and 1, Howard scored his second TD of the night. 14-7 WF.
There were no punts int he first half, each team stopping themselves once. Notre Dame fumbled the ball away on their next possession and Williams Field capitalized on a 61 yards Tom Ross to JD Layton TD pass. 21-7 WF.
Notre Dame's Canavan returned the kickoff 90+ yards to pull back within one score but Howard did something I have never seen live in a game. Howard returned the next kickoff for a score. 28-21 WF and that would be the score at halftime as the Notre Dame defense forced a turnover on downs with under a minute to go.
The second half continued the action. Notre Dame received the ball and it took just a few plays for the Saints to tie up the game. Korey Jones raced in from 28 yards out.
But again with a short field, Williams Field took the lead back when Ross hooked up with Kenny Mitchell on a 22 yard score. 35-28 WF.
Notre Dame went right back to work. Gehrke hit Canavan for a 78 yard gain and Jones scored again from 2 yards out to tie the score back up at 35.
It seemed as though Notre Dame started to gain momentum, forced a punt and took their first ;ead of the game when Gehrke hit Canavan on a 46 yard scoring strike. 42-35 ND at the end of 3 quarters.
Again, the Saints' defense forced a punt but got called for roughing the punter on 4th and 23, giving Williams Field the ball back. On another 4th and 1 play on the goalline, Howard scored again to knot the game back up at 42.
Notre Dame threw an INT on their next possession and Howard took over, carrying the ball three times and scoring again. 49-42 with 3 minutes to play.
The Saints and Coach Bemis did not panic, marching down the field with runs by Jones, passes by Gehrke completed to Martinez, Poupore, Canavan and a pass to Jones put the ball at the 1 yard line. He scored a play later. Saints down by 2.
Instead of kicking the PAT and going into OT, Bemis elected to go for two. Gehrke's pass was incomplete and Williams Field moved on to the 4A2 state title game with a 49-49 win.
This was one of the best high school games I have ever seen. Either team could have won this game. The back and forth battle, non-stop offense and the dramatics at the end, made this one to remember.
There was so many good performances in this game. From WIlliams Field QB/WR duo of Tom Ross to JD Layton, Notre Dame QB Jordan Gehrke, WR Brian Canavan or RB Korey Jones but Williams Field junior RB Alex Howard gets the nod here. He could not be stopped, scoring 5 TDs including what turned out to be the game winner.