Queen Creek handed visiting Peoria its first loss of the year to advance to the Division III semifinals in a convincing 42-14 score which was not entirely representative of how lopsided the game unfolded.
Queen Creek will take on No. 1 Williams Field next week at Campo Verde High School in the semifinals next Friday night.
In what was a dominating effort on both sides of the ball, Queen Creek’s Weston Barlow was the individual hero for his No. 4-seeded Bulldogs. He ran for 301 yards and five touchdowns, including touchdown runs of 25, 67, 80, and 86 yards.
“Weston’s a great running back and he does great things,” Queen Creek coach Travis Schureman said. “The line blocked well for him tonight and gave him some lanes.”
The game appeared as though it might be tight early, but Barlow’s first score, an 86-yard scamper, seemingly opened up the running lanes for good.
Defensively, Queen Creek (10-2) looked strong from the start and held Peoria (11-1) to just two first-half first downs. On one of these conversions, the Bulldogs even managed to force a fumble.
Peoria coach Will Babb was hopeful going into the game that his offense would be able to move the ball more successfully than they did.
Wide receiver Darius Aguirre played well, catching eight balls for 106 yards. Running back Akeem Rutledge ran for just nine yards, but did score two fourth-quarter touchdowns in the loss.
“We weren’t really great on offense,” Babb said. “We came out with a game plan that I thought we could execute but we struggled doing that.”
Despite the disappointing loss, Peoria’s season was a success by any measure, a message their coach shared with his team following their elimination.
“I think we’re working our way back and fighting our way to becoming an elite program,” Babb said after he addressed his team. “We were one group walking in here and we’re going to be one group walking out of here.”
The defending state-champion Bulldogs are back in the final four, but Schureman was candid about his team’s troubled past against their Division III rivals.
“Everyone was hoping for a rematch,” Schureman said with a chuckle. “Williams Field is a great football team and they beat us up pretty bad when we played them a few weeks ago. It’s a great opportunity and we have to get a game plan together.”
Queen Creek 42, Peoria 14
First Downs: Peoria 8, Queen Creek 14
Rushing: Peoria 16-27, Queen Creek 44-350
Passing (comp.-att.-YDS-TD-INT): Peoria 15-32-139-0-0, Queen Creek 4-8-45-0-0
Fumbles-lost: Peoria 2-1, Queen Creek 1-1
Penalties-yards: Peoria 9-84, Queen Creek 5-50
Peoria 0 0 0 14 -- 14
Queen Creek 14 21 7 0 -- 42
Queen Creek: Barlow 86 run (Paulsen kick)
Queen Creek: Barlow 1 run (Paulsen kick)
Queen Creek: Dobbs 1 run (Paulsen kick)
Queen Creek: Barlow 67 run (Paulsen kick)
Queen Creek: Barlow 80 run (Paulsen kick)
Queen Creek: Barlow 25 run (Paulsen kick)
Peoria: Rutledge 1 run (kick blocked)
Peoria: Rutledge 2 run (2-point run good)