In football, as in any other sport, any type of mistake you make can be the difference between winning and losing.
Unfortunately for Desert Edge, their mistake put them on the losing end on Saturday afternoon at Sun Devil Stadium.
An errant snap on a punt attempt late in their championship game against Queen Creek allowed the Bulldogs to earn a safety, which broke a 7-all tie, and gave them the Division III title, by virtue of their 9-7 victory.
The second seeded Bulldogs finished off a perfect season (14-0) with their most thrilling victory of the season.
For the Scorpions (13-1), it’s a most unceremonious ending to what was a phenomenal season.
“We just have a great group of kids,” Queen Creek head coach Joe Germaine said. “Kids with a lot of character, and that was never more evident than how they played tonight.”
Both defenses came to play on Saturday afternoon, with Desert Edge – who averaged almost 46 points per game this season – getting on the board first.
Midway through the third quarter, Scorpion running back Kyle Woolard broke through a stingy Bulldog defense and took it five yards for a touchdown, which gave Desert Edge a 7-0 lead.
Woolard had 129 yards rushing on 25 carries and the lone touchdown.
His counterpart, Matt Guida, would have a similar rushing day.
Guida would counter Woolard’s touchdown with one of his own in the fourth quarter. His 14 yard scoring-run tied the game at seven.
Guida finished the game with 161 yards rushing on 26 carries, and the touchdown.
Just when it seemed like the game was destined for overtime the unthinkable happened, leaving the Scorpions and their fans in a state of shock afterwards. A botched punt would give the Bulldogs a safety score, with just 12 seconds to go in the game.
“It’s too bad that it had to end like that,” Germaine said. “I feel really bad for Desert Edge, because that’s a great, great football team.”
“We’re obviously elated to have the win.”
Germaine said he and his team already had the overtime mindset before the play occurred.
“It just goes to show you how important all three phases of the game are,” Germaine said.
After the game, Guida reflected back on the long road the Bulldogs traveled to get to this point. He felt like the team was meant to be champions, based on the time they put in from Day One until now.
“I feel like we worked our butts off for this,” Guida said. “We may have ended up on the long end of the stick, they ended up on the short end of the stick tonight, and that’s kind of how it worked out.”