It seemed like early mistakes might doom the Queen Creek football team on Friday night.
Instead, it just allowed Perry to stay in the game for a respectable amount of time.
A pair of turnovers put the Bulldogs (3-0) in an eight-point hole, but they dominated the final three quarters in a 41-21 victory over the Pumas at Perry.
Queen Creek, ranked No. 4 in Division III, was playing up a division against No. 6 Perry, but was the team that grew stronger as the game went along.
Running back Matt Guida carried the ball 17 times for 195 yards — 128 of which came in the second half — and two touchdowns as the Bulldogs pulled away.
“That’s what kept us in the ballgame, that we had some takeaways there,” Perry coach Preston Jones said. “We didn’t get that in the second half, obviously.”
Queen Creek used a pair of crucial plays to take control. It trailed 14-12 as the first half wound down, but quarterback Carson Jones found a wide-open Mike Graff for a 17-yard touchdown with 3.8 seconds remaining in the second quarter for a 19-14 lead.
Then, on a 3rd-and-goal from the Perry 4, Jones pump-faked two times before throwing a ball to Gabe Vazquez, who made a one-handed catch in the back of the end zone for a 26-14 lead with 1:55 remaining in the third quarter.
The Pumas (2-1) never seriously threatened after that.
“On the first pump fake he (looked my way),” Vazquez said. “On the second one he looked for somebody else. Then he finally found me.”
For coach Joe Germaine, he flashed back to one of the most famous plays in the history of the NFL.
“Dwight Clark in the back of the end zone,” he said. “That was a great play.”
The Pumas had a sliver of hope when Jones threw an interception deep in Perry territory with his team ahead by two scores, but Graff subsequently picked off a pass and returned it 50 yards for a touchdown to push the lead to 20 points and put the game away.
Vazquez finished with eight catches for 77 yards and two touchdowns. Jones was 16-of-29 for 184 yards with three touchdowns and an interception.
“Their offense isn’t fancy, but it’s very efficient,” Jones said.
The Pumas had trouble moving the ball after the first quarter, but running back Kenny Lewis did finish with 14 carries for 114 yards and a score.
Score by quarters
QC - 6 13 7 15 -- 41
P - 14 0 0 7 -- 21
First Downs - QC: 25; Perry: 14.
Rushes-Yards - QC: 40-300; Perry: 28-192.
Comp-Att-Int - QC: 16-29-1; Perry: 16-18-3
Passing yards - QC: 184; Perry: 115.
Fumbles-Lost - QC: 5-2; Perry: 0-0.
Penalties - Yards - QC: 3-30; Perry: 4-40.
P - Parsons 24 pass from Nightengale, Aguirre kick
QC - Guida 23 run, kick failed
P - Blader 38 run, Aguirre kick
QC - Vazquez 9 pass from Jones, pass failed
QC - Graff 17 pass from Jones, Ibarra kick
QC - Vazquez 4 pass from Jones, Ibarra kick
QC - Guida 26 run, Ibarra kick
P - Lewis 45 run, Aguirre kick
QC - Graff 50 interception return, Ibarra kick