With the offense sputtering Saturday, Chandler Seton Catholic football coach Rex Bowser called on Ryan Bresnahan to take over at quarterback in the second quarter.
Bresnahan, who missed much of the season with a broken hand, threw a 74-yard touchdown pass on his second play to tie the score with Cottonwood Mingus. The senior threw three more scoring passes in the second half, including two in the final six minutes to advance Seton to the Division IV semifinals with a 28-21 victory at Glendale Apollo.
Bresnahan, who threw a school-record 51 touchdown passes as a junior, missed six games after suffering a broken bone in his throwing hand in a loss to Tempe Prep. He watched his backup, David Gesicki, emerge in his place, leading the team to eight consecutive victories with great efficiency.
But Saturday, after Gesicki struggled through a quarter and with his team trailing 7-0, Bowser turned to Bresnahan, who ended 17 of 20 for 277 yards.
Bresnahan completed his first seven passes and 14 of his first 15.
“It’s a huge, huge victory,” Bresnahan. “It showed our character, that we can overcome.”
Seton (11-1), which plays either Show Low or Buckeye next Saturday at 3 p.m. at Phoenix Washington, trailed Mingus (8-4) 21-14 after Brennan Kitchen broke a tackle and ran 19 yards for a touchdown with 7:24 left.
Bresnahan found Daniel Garlid down the sideline for a 53-yard score that tied the game with 5:39 left.
Facing a fourth-and-four from its 39, Mingus faked a punt. Quarterback Luke Simmons, who also punts, overthrew a receiver and the pass was intercepted by Niko Villegas, who returned it 23 yards to the Mingus 28.
“With all of their firepower and us kicking into that wind, I figured I had a better shot at getting five yards,” Mingus coach Bob Young said.
After Seton picked up a first down on third-and-one, Bresnahan found favorite target Matt Haggerty wide open in the end zone for a 15-yard touchdown and the lead with 1:24 to play.
“It was a fake screen and he goes out and he caught it,” Bresnahan said.
Mingus moved to the Seton 38 but with six seconds left, Simmons’ desperation heave was intercepted by Villegas as the game ended.
“They made one more big play than we did,” Young said.
Bowser was proud of the way Bresnahan performed after missing so much time. Bresnahan returned for the Phoenix Bourgade Catholic game in the regular-season finale and split time with Gesicki in last week’s first-round rout of Chinle.
“Ryan did a nice job,” Bowser said. “It’s just one of those things, you get a gut feeling and you go with it. That’s all it was.
“It was a tough situation, and he did a heck of a job.”