November 27, 2004

Glendale Mountain Ridge’s incredible ride will continue all the way to the final game.

The team that started the football season with a 1-4 record became the first 16th-seeded team to reach the 5A state title game after a 42-34 victory Friday night over fifth-seeded Phoenix Brophy Prep in a semifinal contest at Horizon High School.

Running back Nick Bell carried 29 times for 245 yards and two touchdowns and quarterback Austin Martin carried six times for 119 yards and four rushing touchdowns to lead the Mountain Lions (9-4) into next Saturday’s 5A title game against Hamilton, a winner over Highland Friday night in the other semifinal.

Like its season, Mountain Ridge recovered from a sluggish start and battled back from 7-0 and 28-21 deficits to blow past Brophy (11-2). A pair of Martin 1-yard TD runs on consecutive lengthy drives gave the Mountain Lions a 35-28 lead with 6:47 to play. His 18-yard TD run iced the contest with 1:42 to play. For the game, Mountain Ridge accumulated 315 yards on the ground.

"We just kept running the ball and the next thing you knew we started to jell," Mountain Ridge coach Steve Belles said.

"The next thing you know we’re playing for a state championship."

Bell and Martin offset outstanding performances by Broncos sophomore quarterback Conor Hearn (who completed 16-of-30 passes for 195 yards and three touchdowns) and running back Markel Devorce (16 carries, 160 yards).

Hearn delivered a pair of touchdown passes to Carl Mulac and could have fared even better if not for several dropped passes, including one that would have been a sure touchdown that forced a second-quarter Brophy punt.

The Mountain Lions’ comeback season even surprised Belles.

"I thought after the (Phoenix) Goldwater game (a 21-16 Mountain Ridge win that improved its record to 2-4), I thought we needed to improve a whole lot on the offensive line," Belles said.

"We’ll have to play better on defense against Hamilton."

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