PHOENIX – The Brophy Broncos edged Red Mountain 14-13 in a second round Division I playoff matchup Friday night, thanks in large part to a missed extra point attempt by Mountain Lions kicker Carter Tani in the second half.
Brophy was rather short-handed on offense, as star wide receiver Devon Allen sat out the playoff contest due to a sprained ankle. Star running back Marche Dennard was also used sparingly because of a nagging ankle injury.
On a rainy night at Phoenix College, the teams engaged in a good old-fashioned game of smash-mouth football — highlighted by their respective bend but don’t break defenses in the first half.
“Playoff football, playoff football,” Brophy head coach Scooter Molander said of the defensive game Friday night.
After both teams failed to put points on the board in the first half, things changed quickly once the second half began.
On Brophy’s first possession of the second half senior quarterback Tyler Bruggman completed a pass to senior tight end Andrew Curtis. But as Curtis turned up field the ball slipped out of his hands and the Mountain Lions pounced on it giving their offense the ball on the Broncos 10-yard line.
It didn’t take long after that for the first points of the game to be scored. On the second play following the Brophy turnover, Red Mountain quarterback Mason Thorman connected with wide receiver Aeron Carr for a 9-yard touchdown pass, giving the Mountain Lions a 7-0 lead.
With the Brophy offense in desperate need of some help in the absence of Allen and Dennard, their seniors, Bruggman, receiver Clarence Clark and receiver Matthew Auran stepped up in a big way. On the Broncos’ ensuing drive, Bruggman hooked up with Auran twice for a combined 36 yards, before junior running back Will Edwards scampered into the end zone from seven yards out, tying the score at 7.
“Everyone stepped up big without Marche and Devon. Matt, Clarence, and Will all stepped up huge for us tonight,” Bruggman boasted proudly of his teammates following the win.
Red Mountain would answer back though. Starting on their own 29-yard line, Carr broke the first offensive play for 24 yards, taking some of the momentum back for Red Mountain.
Two plays later Thorman hit receiver Drake Pierre for a 23-yard reception, taking the ball all the way down to the Brophy 17-yard line. Thorman would take it from there, pounding the ball in from 13 yards out for a Mountain Lion touchdown.
What ensued next would come back to haunt Red Mountain and probably will for the entire off-season. The point after attempt went wide left and the Mountain Lions were up just six following their go-ahead touchdown.
Both teams traded possessions with little success to end the third quarter, but the Broncos offense got the ball back with about 10 minutes to go in the game and instantly starting moving the ball.
Although he was limited most of the night, Dennard was relied on heavily down the stretch. On Brophy’s first three plays of the possession the team’s star running back ran the ball effectively moving the Broncos 25 yards down the field.
After Dennard’s runs put the Broncos in striking distance, Clark dropped a pass from Bruggman that would have given the Broncos a first down at the Red Mountain 5-yard line. Instead of hanging his head, though, the senior stepped up and redeemed himself with a critical 16-yard touchdown catch from Bruggman on 3rd and long.
“Two plays before I dropped that ball, the first thing my coaches tell me is have a short-term memory, forget it and go out and execute on the next one,” said Clark. “And, that’s what I did.”
Brophy was successful on their point after attempt and led 14-13 with seven minutes to play.
Red Mountain would put together a very nice drive on their following possession, getting down to the Brophy 20-yard line before the Bronco defense stepped up. Broncos’ defensive lineman Conner Martinez sacked Thorman back to the Brophy 28-yard line, and Red Mountain was forced to attempt a go-ahead field goal attempt.
Unfortunately for the Mountain Lions this one was no different than the point after attempt and the long field goal was not even close, all but sealing the victory for the Broncos.
The Brophy defense was really the story of the game Friday night, as they picked their offense up time and time again throughout the game, and stopped an explosive Red Mountain attack that previously handed the Broncos their only home loss during the regular season.
“Last week against Chandler the offense had our defenses back, and this week the defense had the offenses back,” Molander said following the victory.
With the victory, the Broncos will move on to the semi-finals next Friday night where they will face the No. 1 overall seeded Mountain Pointe — who lost 54-28 at Brophy in Week 6.