Based on the seeding, this was supposed to be the best matchup of the 4A-I state football playoffs.
No. 8 seed Glendale Apollo hosting No. 9 seed Queen Creek. On paper it should have been be a close game.
But it was as one-sided as it could get as Apollo trounced the Bulldogs, 51-20, on Friday night.
It was the seventh straight postseason appearance for Queen Creek, but the first in which the Bulldogs (5-6) failed to get out of the first round. Of course, it was their first year at the 4A-I level.
The Hawks (10-1) had way too much speed and way too much size for the Bulldogs. It was too easy for an Apollo team that was hosting a postseason game for the first time in 11 years.
“We weren’t quite that fast, and we weren’t quite that big,” Queen Creek coach Curt LeBlanc said.
One minute into the second quarter the Bulldogs trailed the Hawks, 20-0. Queen Creek got a quick lesson on the quite-strike capabilities of the Apollo offense.
Sophomore quarterback Jon Brown hit junior wide receiver Chrisdeon Ayiyi on touchdown passes of 78 yards and 42 yards. Brown also rushed for a 5-yard score early in the game. It was Ayiyi who set up his second score with an interception of Queen Creek quarterback Adam Brzeczek.
In all, Ayiyi caught four passes for 157 yards and three touchdowns. Brown was 6-of-18 passing for 202 yards and three touchdowns. His effort helped him break the Apollo school record for touchdown passes in a season with 23.
He was tied for the record going into the game with his coach, former Apollo quarterback Zack Threadgill.
“I used to own that record,” Threadgill said. “I think Jon is the best-kept secret in Arizona.”
It was one of four turnovers that doomed the Bulldogs, who trailed 20-7 at the half.
The Bulldogs’ best moments came early in the second half when they stopped Apollo’s offense early and immediately began moving the ball. Then came the turnovers. Wide receiver Todd Kirchner coughed up the ball, and four plays later the Hawks took a 27-7 lead when Kyran Smith scampered 37 yards for a touchdown.
Smith rushed for 144 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries.
Queen Creek running back Chim Nga gained 175 yards on 14 carries, including a 61-yard touchdown run.
Apollo made it a runaway midway through the fourth quarter when Zackary Wilson returned a fumble 63 yards for a touchdown. Queen Creek then fumbled the kickoff, and one play later, Smith scored on a 25-yard run to give the Hawks a 51-13 lead.
No. 9 Queen Creek (5-5) at No. 8 Apollo (9-1)
Time: 7 p.m. today
Address: 8045 N. 47th Ave., Glendale
Key matchup: Apollo quarterback Jon Brown has thrown for 20 touchdowns and just five interceptions this season. Queen Creek's secondary will be helped by the presence of Kendal Augustin, the Bulldogs' leading receiver who is limited to just playing defense due to a fractured finger.
Key stat: Queen Creek quarterback Adam Brzeczek has 2,020 of the Bulldogs' 3,239 yards this season. His 608 rushing yards are tops on the team.
Intrigue: The Bulldogs will need to find a big-play replacement for the injured Augustin, who has two scoring plays longer than 70 yards this year. Apollo hasn't played the kind of schedule that Queen Creek has, but the Hawks have a lot of confidence thanks to their 9-1 record.