SCOTTSDALE — Zack Kilburg thinks his Desert Mountain football team can hold its next opponent to 14 points or fewer.
The way he and his Wolves teammates played Friday in their 17-8 defeat of the defending state 5A champion Sunrise Mountain Mustangs, it’s easy to see why the senior is so confident.
The Wolves (12-1) ended the season of the Mustangs (7-5) in the quarterfinals, limiting the visitors to 216 yards of total offense. While Desert Mountain only had 207 yards of its own, — and only 60 yards on the ground, to go with 125 penalty yards — the Wolves turned in the biggest plays of the night.
The Wolves also turned those big plays into points.
Sunrise Mountain junior Rex Underhill had 87 rushing yards and accounted for all of his team’s points, scoring on a short third-and-goal run in the second quarter and adding the 2-point conversion run himself.
Desert Mountain only put three points on the board over nearly the entire first three quarters of the game — a 36-yard field goal by Tristen Banquil late in the third quarter.
The Wolves’ Jack Rold blocked a Sunrise Mountain punt in the final minute of the third quarter. On the next play, from the Mustang 16-yard-line, Kilburg bounced an inside run outside, getting just inside the pylon along the right sideline to put his team ahead for good.
After a penalty on the conversion play meant Banquil had to hit the point-after kick from 35 yards away, the senior easily nailed the kick to make the score 10-8.
A botched field goal by the Mustangs with 4:07 left in the game allowed Desert Mountain’s Santana Wilson scooped up the ball and raced 66 yards to seal the win. The Mustangs, after Underhill got hut, tried to mount a late drive in the game’s waning moments, but that ended with an interception.
In fact, both of the Mustangs’ only two pass attempts of the second half were intercepted — part of three picks overall in the game.
Sunrise Mountain quarterbacks Hunter Kronengold and Dustin Prey were a combined 8-of-13 for only 79 yards.
Kilburg says if his team takes that kind of A-game it showed in the second half to top-seeded Horizon on Friday, Dec. 3, the No. 4-seed Wolves could pull off the upset.
“Horizon’s a very strong team, and they’ve scored a lot of points,” Kilburg said. “But I think we have one of the top defenses in the state, and we can hold them to 14 points if we play good.”
Kilburg thanked sophomore receiver Jack Freeburg for a block that helped spring Kilburg toward the goal line on the go-ahead touchdown.
“It helps when you have receivers who know all their roles, and can block so well,” Kilburg said.
Freeburg also had six catches for 99 yards. Desert Mountain quarterback Drew Tapley was 13-of-23 for 147 yards, with no interceptions.
Hamilton said Wilson — a speedy sophomore whose father is former Cardinal star and current vice president of pro scouting Adrian Wilson — was one of many players who stepped up in the second half of the game.
Sunrise Mountain’s eight penalties for 70 yards came at more critical times than the Wolves’ 14 flags.
“We played really well — down the stretch,” Hamilton said. “Sometimes, games aren’t clean — especially with adolescents in pressure-packed situations. Look at the pros, like yesterday’s Dallas-Raiders game — a combined 28 penalties. Sometimes, you gotta win ugly.”
Hamilton predicts his team will compete well at Horizon.
“We’ve been in every game this year,” he said. “I expect we’ll be in this one, too.”
Friday, Nov. 26
DESERT MOUNTAIN 17, SUNRISE MOUNTAIN 8
Sunrise Mountain 0 8 0 0—8
Desert Mountain 3 0 7 7—17
Scoring: DSM, 1:08 1st, Tristen Banquil 36 FG; SM, 9:28 2nd, Rex Underhill 2 run (Underhill run); DSM, Zack Kilburg 16 run (Banquil kick); DSM, Santana Wilson 64 fumble return (Banquil kick).
Rushes-yds: SM 41-137; DSM 14-60. Passing: SM 8-13-3—79; DSM 13-20-0—147. Total off: SM 216; DSM 207. 1st Downs: SM 16; DSM 11. Pen.-Yds: SM 8-70; DSM 14-125. Punts-Avg.: SM 2-45.5; DSM 3-34.0 Fumbles-lost: SM 2-1; DSM 2-1.Rec.: SM 7-5; DSM 11-1.
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