Queen Creek’s Austin Carnes had three interceptions, one of which led to a 33-yard touchdown, as the Bulldogs overcame a rough offensive night to defeat visiting Tucson Palo Verde 29-21 in the first round of the 4A-II state football playoffs.
Carnes’ last interception with under two minutes left sealed the win for the sixth-seeded Bulldogs.
“I knew I had to play hard, I felt I gave up three touchdowns and let everyone down, so I came out in the second half ready to play,” Carnes said.
Queen Creek will face third-seeded Scottsdale Notre Dame next week in the quarterfinals.
Queen Creek’s victory did not look good on paper. The Bulldogs had only 63 yards rushing and 29 yards passing, and picked up only five first downs.
However, Palo Verde quarterback Lee Bloxham had a potentially good night (he was 12-24 for 272 yards) ruined by four interceptions.
The 11th–seeded Titans also allowed Queen Creek’s Jared Call take a punt 54 yards into the end zone in the first half that, coupled with a quick two-point conversion pass from Richie Edwards to Justin Hamblin, gave the Bulldogs a 15-7 lead early in the game,
Queen Creek coach Curt LeBlanc was not that impressed with his team’s win.
“We have to play better than we did tonight,” LeBlanc said. “That team did a great job. Palo Verde’s coach (Todd Mayfield) did a phenomenal job preparing his team.
“We need to work on a lot of things. This is playoff football and the coaches have got to do a better job preparing us for next week.”
Palo Verde appeared to have the upper hand on the Bulldogs when they went up 21-15 in the first half on two straight long bombs from Bloxham to receiver Adam Hall. Hall was Palo Verde’s top receiver, catching five passes for 130 yards.
The Titans had 12 first downs, but could not get past their own penalties and miscues in the second half.