A field goal is all that separated Saguaro and CDO at halftime as turnovers and tough defense were the themes of the first half.
CDO forced Saguaro's vaunted offense to punt on the first series and Max Smith pinned the Dorados inside the 20. A fumble on the first play was recovered Saguaro DT Joe Kellogg.
Saguaro only managed a field goal but this play would have significant ramifications as the game went on.
CDO's best scoring opportunity came in the closing seconds of the first half. They were in long field goal range and attempting to get closer, QB Dan Nicholas hit one of his wideouts on an out route but he was unable to get out of bounds and the time ticked off the clock.
Score at half Saguaro- 3 CDO- 0
Saguaro added to the lead early in the second half when on their first possession, RB Justin Shelton plunged in from a yard out on 4th and goal. 10-0 Saguaro.
CDO answered right back when freshman return man Kadeem Carey took the kickoff 91 yards to pay-dirt. 10-7 Saguaro.
It looked like Saguaro's found their groove as they got 10 more points out of their next two drives. A Tim Ruben 12 yard TD run and a 31 yard Steven Chiappetti field goal gave the Sabercats a 20-7 lead headed into the 4th quarter.
CDO's scrappy defense gave them the boast they needed trying to get back into the game. They forced a punt which was blocked and recovered by Brent Lush at the 1 yard line and narrowed Saguaro's lead to 6 points when Nicholas found Josh Robbins for their offense's first score. 20-14 Saguaro.
CDO recovered the onside kick and all momentum was on their side. Nicholas marched them down the field with several short completions but it was Griffin Ronstadt's 22 yard touchdown run that gave CDO their first lead. 21-20 CDO under two minutes to play.
Let the excitement begin.
CDO looked like they wrapped up them game when Johnny Buir sacked Tim Ruben on 3rd and five for an 11 yard loss but Ruben found TE Max Smith for the first down.
Ruben then ran for another first down and hit WR Andrew Johnson to move the chains once again.
CDO's defense again stepped up and facing 4th and 6, Saguaro head coach John Sanders opted to go for it rather then attempt the long field goal. It paid off as Ruben found Johnson again to move the ball to the 13 yard line. Ruben spiked it and Chiappetti connected from 31 yards out.
The Sabercats swarmed the field in celebration, problem being, there was still time on the clock. The result was a 15 yard penalty.
Chiappetti pooched the kickoff and CDO waived for a fair catch, leaving two seconds on the clock and the ball at the 40 yard line. Any hopes of a last ditch Hail Mary pass by Nicholas ended when DT Corey Adams sacked Nicholas to end the game.
Final 23- 21 Saguaro
This was the most exciting game of the title game weekend. Give credit to CDO, they played tough against a bigger Saguaro team. They also did not quit when it looked like the Sabercats had the game wrapped up.
Saguaro finished the season undefeated and this team should go down as one of the best 4A teams ever in
Kicker Steven Chiappetti gets it here. His two field goals decided this game.