East met West tonight in the first round of the play-offs as the #9 Gilbert Tigers traveled to take on the #8 Mountain Ridge Mountain Lions. As should be expected between an eight and nine seed, it was a tight game. And in a tight game it is usually determined by which team makes the fewest mistakes.
In the first half it was Mountain Ridge that was able to strike first after David Fresenius recovered a Gilbert fumble across midfield. With the short field, Mountain Ridge used a pass run attack to get to the 13 yard line. From there Chris Johnston was able to hit Josh Morrow for a touchdown strike. Mountain Lions take the lead 7-0.
The first half saw Gilbert starting four of five drives at their own 20. And on the one they started on their 40, they had a 10 yard sack which lead to a punt from their 30. The Mountain Lion defense prevented them from even crossing midfield. Mountain Ridge started every drive from just shy of midfield and could only muster a field goal by Jeff Locke late in the half to make their lead 10-0 at half.
The third quarter started with Mountain Ridge making the first mistake. Chris Johnston was intercepted by Ryan Cammeron. Starting on their own 35, QB Kyle Newhall-Cabalero led his team down the field. The key play was when Gilbert went for it on 4-1 to finally get past the Mountain Ridge 40. Running backs Joe Zakhar and John Coon did the power running and it was Kyle Newhall-Cabelero who took it in on fourth and goal from the one. Mountain Ridge 10, Gilbert 7.
their first play from scrimmage, Mountain Ridge made their second mistake.
Kyle Newhall-Cabalero kept the shift in the momentum in his teams favor by hitting Micah Parker for and 25 yard TD on his first play from scrimmage. Ridge 10, Gilbert 14.
Mountain Ridge came back on their next possession and seemed to get back on track. Following big passes to David Campbell and Jonathan Ott that put the Gilbert D on their heals, Johnston hit Jordan Scott on a quick slant up the middle for 32 yard score. Ridge back on top, 17-14.
Trailing at the start of the fourth quarter, Gilbert dug deeper into their pass plays. With precision strikes to John Coon and Micah Parker, the Tigers were soon deep in Ridge territory. On 3-5 Newhall-Cabalero hit David Sepuveda for the 35 yard, go ahead touchdown. Gilbert 21, Mountain Ridge 14.
Ridge had to punt on their next possession and with 4:19 left on the clock,
Gilbert drove to put the game out of reach. They ate most of the time off the
clock and Micah Parker rumbled in
from 1 yard out on fourth and goal to make the score 28-14. With less than a
minute left, the Mountain Lions still had fight left.
Mountain Ridge went for 2 points and got them with a double reverse pass from Ott to Morrow. Gilbert 28- Mountain Ridge 25.
With 9 seconds left, Mountain Ridge's hopes of a come back ended when they were unable to recover the onsides kick.
Final score Tigers 28- Mountian Lions 25.
Game Balls: Kyle Newhall-Cabalero and Micah Parker of Gilbert for their touchdowns which lead to the Tigers moving on.
Bottom Line: 8 vs. 9 should be the most evenly matched game of the playoffs. Neither team had a great running game but both could pass. Both had a solid front and both played all out to the end. The difference was mistakes and who could capitalize. Mountain Ridge was unable to make the most of the short field they were given in the first half and missed two other field goal tries. Gilbert was down but not out and given the opportunity they made the most of them. They will need the ball to bounce their way next week when they take on Westwood.