Queen Creek remains undefeated and handed visiting Higley its first loss of the season by a score of 56-35.
It was a game of two halves as Queen Creek (5-0) expanded a seven-point halftime lead to 21 just five minutes into the third quarter. The Bulldogs capitalized behind timely defense, which returned two interceptions for touchdowns.
“They did a good job defensively,” Higley coach Eddy Zubey said. “They put seven guys in the box and dared us to throw the ball.”
Both players who scored defensively for Queen Creek also found the end zone on offense. Michael Kemmerer had a 32-yard touchdown catch and an 80-yard interception return, while running back Semone Brown returned an interception 40 yards before rushing for a 6-yard touchdown.
It was Queen Creek’s Weston Barlow who was the offensive star of the game for a third consecutive week. In relief of still-injured Matt Guida, Barlow carried the ball 33 times for 268 yards and scored twice. The Bulldogs’ Bryce Dobbs only threw the ball 11 times for 71 yards and coach Travis Schureman said the reliance on the run was a reaction to Higley’s defensive approach.
“We like to try to take what the defense gives us,” Schureman said. “(Barlow) has done a great job for us and we hope that continues.”
The first half set the stage for a tight contest as the two undefeated teams traded scores. With four minutes left in the half, Higley (4-1) took a 21-20 lead, but in the next eight minutes, Queen Creek scored three times.
“They executed better in the second half and that’s basically what it came down to,” Zubey said, adding that his team wouldn’t be discouraged by its first loss after a strong start to 2013.
“(We’ll be) back tomorrow morning at 7:55 a.m. Our goal wasn’t to go undefeated. Our goal was to see what we can do once we get into the playoffs. This was a good measuring stick for us.”
Knights' quarterback Tyler Bloom threw for four touchdowns and 272 yards, while running back Ricky Marshall rushed for 147 yards. Wide receiver Cole Hunter had a productive first half, during which he caught two touchdowns.
Schureman, however, felt that the second half was more indicative of his team’s potential going forward than the first half.
“We had to settle down (at halftime),” he said. “Our defense just needed to fix a few things and offensively we needed to do the same thing. We were making silly mistakes.”
Queen Creek 56, Higley 35
First Downs: Higley 19, Queen Creek 20
Rushing: Higley 37-175, Queen Creek 55-377
Passing (comp.-att.-TD-INT): Higley 16-36-4-2, Queen Creek 4-11-2-0
Fumbles-lost: Higley 1-1, Queen Creek 1-1
Penalties-yards: Higley 8-75, Queen Creek 6-60
Higley 6 15 7 7 -- 35
Queen Creek 14 14 14 14 -- 56
Queen Creek: Kemmerer 32 pass from Dobbs (Paulsen kick)
Higley: Hunter 45 pass from Bloom (2 pt NG)
Queen Creek: Barlow 10 run (Paulsen kick)
Higley: Colson 23 pass from Bloom (2 pt good)
Queen Creek: Kemmerer 80 INT return (Paulsen kick)
Higley: Hunter 30 pass from Bloom (Cook kick)
Queen Creek: Barlow 1 run (2 pt good)
Queen Creek: Brown 40 INT return (Paulsen kick)
Queen Creek: Lemley 21 pass from Dobbs (Paulsen kick)
Higley: Marshall 1 run (Cook kick)
Queen Creek: Brown 6 run (Paulsen kick)
Queen Creek: Lemley 2 run (Paulsen kick)
Higley: Marshall 14 pass from Bloom (Cook kick)