This was survival at its best for Scottsdale Chaparral. The Firebirds advanced to the second round of the 4A Division I playoffs on Friday with a 35-28 overtime victory over Glendale Apollo.
Chaparral survived a spectacular night of football played by the Hawks’ Prince Amukamara. They survived the miss of a 22-yard field goal on the last play of regulation and survived at least going into one more overtime when an Apollo touchdown was called back because of a penalty.
The Firebirds (10-2) didn’t have a problem moving the football as they rushed for 289 yards as a team. Their problem was stopping Amukamara who had 22 carries for 336 yards and scored all four Apollo touchdowns. “We felt like we could run and we did,’’ Chaparral coach Ron Estabrook said. “We didn’t think the other guy would answer so fast.’’
Three of the Hawks’ scoring drives were one play each. The first was a 65-yard run by Amukamara. The second was an 82-yard touchdown run and the third a 97-yard touchdown run. The final run came after the Hawks’ defense came up with a rare stop of the Chaparral offense on fourth down.
“They found a hitch in our get-a-long,’’ Estabrook said. “They ran one play on us and he scored how many times? He’s really elusive. He’s like greased lightning. We’re pretty good tacklers and we couldn’t get it done.’’
Injuries have taken their toll on the Firebird backfield.
On any other night, Chaparral running back Derek Oesterblad would have gotten all the attention. In his first game of the season as a running back the junior ran for 163 yards and two touchdowns. Not a bad debut.
“We just moved him there this week,’’ Estabrook said.“We’re juggling the whole banana around.’’
Quarterback Casey Lytle, who scored twice in regulation, came up big in overtime with an 8-yard scoring pass to Zach Sease on a third-down play.
Junior Mike Cummings ended the game when he intercepted Apollo quarterback Chris Leon on a third down play in overtime.
Chaparral was very much in control of the football game until late in the second quarter. The Hawks (7-4) scored twice in the final three minutes to go into halftime tied at 21. The second score came after a Lytle fumble on the 18-yard line ended a Firebird scoring threat.