Friday night pitted two of southern Arizona's best programs against each other in a spectacular game featuring Cienega and Salpointe. Cienega made the trip to Salpointe in a clash that went down to the final play where the Bobcats came up with a huge defensive stand to come away with a 25-20 victory.
Whatever butterflies Cienega players may have had quickly diminished on the first play from scrimmage when senior QB Michael Robertson lofted a beautiful pass in stride to receiver Bryce Burnett for a 72 yard gain to the 2 yard line. Travis Mooney would punch it in from a yard out three plays later but the PAT would be no good. Cienega wasn't done yet. The Bobcats got tricky on the ensuing kick off catching Salpointe off guard with an onside kick, recovering the ball on the Lancer 48. Cienega went back to the air as Robertson hit Burnett a few plays later with a 34 yard strike for a score. A missed two point conversion put the Bobcats up 12-0 with 7:30 left in the first.
The Lancers finally got their chance to showcase their offense led by their massive o-line and RT John Romero and without disappointment, they marched 60 yards down the field concluding with a 1 yd TD by RB Nick Cole. PAT good, 12-7 Cienega at the end of the first quarter.
The Bobcats'offense picked up again midway through the second when Robertson found RB Jesus Short open in the flat for a 24 yard play down to the 7 yard line. Robertson would use his feet this time scampering in from the 6 yard line putting Cienega up 19-7 after the extra point. The Lancers would answer back when the fans got a look at their future when junior QB Max Frits connected with junior WR Matt Ransom for a 41 yard strike down to the 5 where Sean Evans drilled a field goal as time expired. 19-10 Cienega at the half.
The Lancers went to work again to open the 3rd chewing up 7 minutes of the clock, capping the drive with a 31yd FG by Evans for the quarter's only score to cut the lead to 19-13. Salpointe would have the ball again to start the 4th, grabbing their first lead of the game when Fritz found an open Cole for a 20 yard TD on a drive highlighted by a 47 yard run by Cole. 20-19 Salpointe. Cienega would turn to the ground behind runs of 9, 12, and 15 by Short as the Bobcats rumbled 80 yards ending with a 1 yard score by Kyle Knight. The Lancers D would toughen up stopping a two point conversion a foot short.
Things would turn interesting in the game's closing minutes when Ted Graunke picked off a Robertson pass on 3rd and 4 with 2 minutes remaining, giving Salpointe the ball on their own 31 with no timeouts. After a first down Fritz found Ransom who made a fantastic catch for 44 yards to the 2 yard line with less than 40 seconds to go. After a 1 yard run, Salpointe would get on more chance with time ticking down and the Cienega D would rise to the occasion battling the Lancers o-line and coming up with the stop as the final whistle blew. Cienega comes out on top 25-20.
Bottom Line: Cienega's spread offense headed by Robertson was too much to defend early on for the Lancers who found themselves in the hole from the start. One of southern Arizona's most dangerous WR/QB tandems was revealed with Robertson and the sure-handed Burnett who connected for 132 yds. Salpointe found a nice combo with juniors Fritz and Ransom also who combined for 121 yds of their own.
Game Balls: Cienega: Robertson 9/16 for 191 yds, passing for 1 TD and running for another. Bryce Burnett with 4 rec for 132 yds and a score. Jesus Short had 115 yd on 15 carries. Salpointe: Max Fritz 11/15 for 166 yds, 1 TD. Nick Cole 120 yds combined and 2 TD. Matt Ransom 121 yds on 7 rec.