One gamble sent the seasons of Scottsdale Christian and Tempe Prep in opposite directions on Friday.
With 7:23 left in the football game, the Eagles had just scored a touchdown to get within one point of Tempe Prep. Scottsdale Christian's fateful decision was to fake the extra point and go for the lead. When the shuffle pass was ruled incomplete Tempe Prep led 14-13.
That's the way the game ended as eighth-seeded Scottsdale Christian never got close to scoring again in the first round of the Division V playoffs on Friday.
Tempe Prep coach Thomas Brittain said his coaches saw something fishy in the way the Eagles set up for the extra point.
"We were screaming at the kids to be ready," Brittain said.
With its win, the ninth-seeded Knights (7-4) move on to play at No. 1 seed Northwest Christian next Friday. Scottsdale Christian, which had beaten Tempe Prep earlier in the year, saw its seven-game winning streak end as well as its season. The Eagles finish the year at 7-4.
Struggling all game long to move the football, SCA resorted to trickery to get the potential tying score. On third down, running back Chaz Dudley took a handoff, ran right and then threw a 55-yard touchdown pass to Sam Fillingame.
The Eagles had just five first downs (one in the first half) as they couldn't sustain any kind of drive against the aggressive Tempe Prep defense. Scottsdale Christian's other score was set up when Brittain called for a fake punt the failed and give the Eagles their best field position of the night.
"That was my mistake," Brittain said.
Tempe Prep dominated the game from the very beginning when it found out the Eagles could not stop the running game. The Knights pounded the football inside with fullback Levi Hartzler and then used the speed of quarterback Forest Redlin and running back Ahmari Underwood to get the football outside.
It was also an impressive effort from the Tempe Prep offensive line.
Hartzler (21 carried for 79 yards) scored from 2-two yards out on the opening drive, which lasted 15 plays and went 80 yards. He also recovered a fumble late in the game by Eagle quarterback Luke O'neill that helped preserve the victory.
"We win the game when we run the football," Hartzler said. "That was our game plan."
Early in the second Tempe Prep went up 14-0 when Redlin scored from 1-yard out.
So dominant was Tempe Prep in the first half that it had 13 first downs to just one for Scottsdale Christian. Time of possession was ridiculous with the Knights owning the football for almost 18 minutes of the first half.
The Eagles' offense didn't have much of a chance to get anything going in the first half as it ran just 10 offensive plays.
Tempe Prep's offense went dormant in the second half partly because Underwood wasn't in the game. He had 13 carries for 63 yards, but left midway through the second with an ankle injury.