Ironwood Ridge rolled off 17 unanswered points in the 2nd half Friday night overcoming a 21-12 halftime deficit to the visiting Rincon Rangers. The Rangers, looking to bounce back with a win after their first defeat of the season to top-ranked Cactus, were in control the majority of the first half behind southern Arizona's top rushing offense but were unable to hold on in the region opener.
The Nighthawks would strike first taking advantage good field position from the Rincon 42. RB Dakota McQuay would tear off a run of 30 yards to the 9 where Bobby Farley connected on a fade route with Colin Gilbert in the corner of the endzone. A blocked PAT would leave the score at 6-0. Rincon would answer in the 2nd after recovering a fumble deep in Ridge territory at the 6 yard line. Francis Ravenell would scamper in on the next play to give Rincon the lead 7-6. The Nighthawks wouldn't waste anytime on their next possession as Farley found an open Tyler Moore over the middle, outrunning a Rincon defense for a 76 yard score and a 12-7 lead. Rincon toughened up on the 2 point conversion sacking Farley and keeping the score at 12-7. The Rangers would use their bread and butter wishbone attack to tack on two more Ravenell touchdowns from 5 and 6 yards out to go in leading at the half 21-12 keeping momentum on their side.
Both defenses would dominate in the 3rd quarter. After trading possessions twice, Ironwood Ridge cut away at the deficit late in the quarter with a 35 yard FG from Daniel Vega set up by a quick out pass from Farley to Gilbert that ended in a big 36 yard gain. The Rangers still led 21-15 at the end of the 3rd. The Nighthawks would open the 4th with the ball at their own 10 and trailing by 6. Using a combo of quick passes and runs they marched 90 yards down field capped by a 29 yard fade pass from Farley to Gilbert for the 2nd time of the evening and 22-21 lead with 8:31 remaining in the game. The Rangers would try to strike back on their next possession but on 4th and 3 QB Memo Duarte's option pitch would get away with Ironwood Ridge's Mike Stefferson scooping it up and taking 30 yards to the house to the seal the victory for the Nighthawks 29-21.
Bottom Line: This game was a must win for either squad in order to keep playoff hopes alive. With heavy weights Sabino and CDO picked to finish 1 and 2 in the region, it will be a tough road for Rincon if they hope to stay in the playoff picture. On the other hand, the Nighthawks will be right in the thick of things if they can upset either Sabino or CDO and finish of region play with only 1 loss. Rincon still has an outside shot if they can run the table the rest of the way.
Game Balls: For Ironwood Ridge Bob Farley finished the night 10 of 14 for 223 yards and 3 TDS. His favourite target was Colin Gilbert with a great game on 6 catches for 144 yards and 2 scores.