Addison Bare took a wild ride on Saturday and it showed on his face. Bare’s day was filled with elation and dejection, pain (lots of pain), and in the end, pure joy.
Bare was the hero, the goat and then the hero again as his tackle on St. Johns quarterback Steven Lindsey on a fourth-down play saved the game and his Valley Christian team knocked off its most recent playoff nemesis 26-24 in the 2A state semifinals at Phoenix North Canyon High School.
“We wanted this so bad,” Bare said. “We didn’t want to lose to them a third time.”
Valley Christian had lost to St. Johns in the state semifinals the past two seasons and the Redskins had gone on to win the championship game in both years. Now, the Trojans (11-1) will go for their first title since 2005 next Saturday in Flagstaff when they face Willcox, which defeated Yuma Catholic 21-13 in Saturday’s other semifinal.
“I know, that this time my kids deserved this, and my coaches,” Valley Christian coach Bill Morgan said. “Because I don’t think, humanly, they could have worked as hard as we did for this."
Playing with a shoulder that has been troublesome since he dislocated it back in week 2, Bare made the defensive play of the day.
Bare, a senior, scored on runs of 14 and 65 yards, the latter gave his team a 19-15 lead that it would take into the fourth quarter. Bare, playing with a shoulder that has been troublesome since he dislocated it back in week 2, also had two fumbles in the second half, killing Trojan drives and giving St. Johns life.
“I haven’t fumbled in years, I couldn’t believe it,” said Bare, who had 130 yards rushing to lead the Trojans. “It was hard for me, I was in a lot of pain and I didn’t want to let the team down and I wanted to make it up and then I fumbled again, I really couldn’t believe it.”
Bare’s second fumble was followed by a 49-yard run by Cade Ashton that put St. Johns ahead 22-19 with 10:49 left in the game.
Valley Christian then pulled back in front on a gutsy fourth-down call from the St. Johns 16. Instead of kicking the tying field goal, Bill Morgan went for it and son Jordan Morgan lofted a ball to Kyle O’Brien in the end zone. O’Brien, who earlier had a 36-yard catch and run for a touchdown, lept up between two defenders, grabbed the ball and cradled it to his chest for the go-ahead score with 7:12 left.
“At this point you have to play to win,” said Bill Morgan. “The idea there was to throw it up to our best receiver and let him go get it. He did the job.”
St. Johns was in position to spoil the day for Valley Christian, driving 60 yards in 10 plays, down to the Trojans’ 14. A delay penalty, a run for negative yards and a false start moved the ball back to the 25, but like they had all game long, the Redskins found a big play, as Lindsey hit Garrett Anderson for 18 yards down to the seven.
“You credit them because they have the heart of a champion,” Bill Morgan said. “They won it and they wanted to win it again.”
A third down running play was knocked for a 3-yard loss, setting up a fourth-and-5 play at the Valley Christian 10 with 1:20 left.
Lindsey, who threw for 174 yards but had two interceptions in the second half, rolled to his left and appeared to have all the room he needed. But Bare closed the gap and met Lindsey at the 6, knocking the ball loose as the two tumbled out of bounds.
“Coach told me I wasn’t running the ball again, so I said if I wasn’t going to run it again I had to make it up on defense,” Bare said. “All I could see was (Lindsey), I was focusing on him and I knew, no matter what, I had to get him before he got the first down.”
St. Johns had one timeout remaining as Valley Christian took over at its 5. On third down, Jordan Morgan, trying to run out the clock, ran to his right and as he neared the sideline, he planted. The foot, however, didn’t hold and he slid out of bounds, setting up a nerve-wracking fourth-down play with 25 seconds left.
“I was trying to stop, but my momentum carried me out of bounds. It was my fault,” said Jordan Morgan.
“How stupid did we manage the clock?” Bill Morgan said. “That’s on me.”
Instead of punting from the end zone, Jordan Morgan ran for as long as he could before being tackled for the safety.
With 18 seconds left, Jordan Morgan booted a 52 yard free kick and Anderson, surprisingly, called for a fair catch at the St. Johns 28.
The Redskins’ final play was a double pass, and Anderson’s throw down field was picked off by the Trojans’ James Fitzgerald, his second of the day.