By. Jason Digos Jr.
Division III #2 seeded Gilbert Williams Field looked dominant on both sides of the ball and defeated #10 seed Phoenix Moon Valley by a score of 53-12 in their second round playoff game. Both teams entered the game with identical 10-1 records on the season, however it was the Blackhawks offensive and defensive fronts and their backfield depth that made the difference in Friday night’s rout.
The Blackhawks defense made their presence felt on Rockets senior quarterback Shannon Burton early, forcing a quick Moon Valley three and out on their first series of the game. On the ensuing Williams Field possession, the Blackhawks offense needed only three plays to find the endzone as Fabian Ortiz got the first points on the board with a 36-yard off tackle run.
After forcing another quick three and out for the Rockets offense, Williams Field quickly marched their way down the field and Braedyn Bushman scampered in from 3-yards out to give Williams Field a 15-0 lead after a Brandon Ruiz kick.
Shannon Burton got the Rockets going on offense on his own after a 41-yard scramble deep in to Williams Field territory, but a turnover on downs gave the ball back to the Blackhawks. A couple plays after the turnover, QB Weston Murphy hit receiver Kenney Owens for a 38-yard touchdown and the rout was on. After the first quarter, Williams Field led 22-0.
Bushman scored his second TD of the night with 10:33 to go in the second frame, going untouched on an inside power play for a 32-yard score. The senior had only 9 carries on the night but racked up 130 yards on the ground. He returned from the locker room after halftime wearing a hoodie and ice was wrapped on his left shoulder. His backup, Ortiz found the endzone for the second time in the second quarter on a 38-yard run.
Moon Valley got on the board for the first time halfway through the second quarter, as Shannon Burton kept on a read option play and turned on the jets for a 20 yard touchdown run. The Rockets got the ball back after a missed field goal with about a minute before the half and marched down to the Williams Field 4-yard line with 10 seconds remaining on the clock. Without any timeouts remaining, Burton ran another QB keeper play and was stopped by a swarm of Blackhawks defenders at the 1-yard line and Williams Field went in to the locker room at the half with a 36-6 lead.
In the second half, Williams Field started with the ball and the offense now led by Weston Murphy marched down the field on a 60-yard drive, capped by a second Murphy to Owens touchdown pass. The Blackhawks were on cruise control after that.
In the fourth quarter, Shannon Burton finally was able to break the contain of the Blackhawks defense and showed off his speed on a 71-yard touchdown run for his final touchdown of his outstanding senior season. Braylon Roberts for Williams Field added the final scoring play of the game with an 18-yard touchdown run with five minutes remaining.
Next week, #2 Williams Field takes on #3 seeded and undefeated Tempe in the Division III semi-finals. It is the third consecutive semi-final appearance for the Blackhawks and they have yet to make it to the state championship game. It should be an interesting battle between Tempe senior quarterback Emanuel Gant and the stingy defense for the Blackhawks.