Queen Creek battles in back-and-forth thriller

Queen Creek battles in back-and-forth thriller

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Queen Creek battles in back-and-forth thriller

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Queen Creek senior Zane Whiting catches the ball in a game against Ironwood Ridge on Oct. 9, 2015 in Queen Creek.

Queen Creek senior Zane Whiting catches the ball in a game against Ironwood Ridge on Oct. 9, 2015 in Queen Creek.

Big plays seemed to be the theme of Friday night’s Division II top-10 matchup as No. 6 Queen Creek battled back from 14 down to emerge victorious over No. 8 Oro Valley Ironwood Ridge 49-42 in a back-and-forth thriller.

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The game wasn’t clinched until the last 30 seconds as a desperation heave from Ironwood Ridge (5-2) fell into the hands of senior QB/DB Kaleb Honea and Queen Creek (5-2) was able to run out the clock and preserve the win.

“I was playing free safety, and I was playing deep,” Honea said. “I almost fell but I hustled over there and made a play.”

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Honea was making huge plays on both offense and defense in this game. As quarterback, he also threw the game-winning touchdown pass, a 36-yard streak to junior wideout Ian Woods with 2 minutes, 11 seconds left in the game.

“We saw that their corners were jumping the out route,” Queen Creek coach Travis Schureman said. “We thought if we could let him do (the out-and-go), he would be open and it turned out great.”

Poor secondary play from both sides gave wide receivers the freedom to break along the seam and the outside, leading to coverage breakdowns and long touchdown passes. Ironwood Ridge gave up 36-, 39- and 66-yard touchdowns.

“Both teams had a problem with the pass,” Ironwood Ridge coach Matt Johnson said. “Part of it is good scheme and part of it is player mistakes, and we have to coach up and fix it. That’s why you play teams like Queen Creek because they will get you better.”

PHOTOS: Ironwood Ridge-Queen Creek

Ironwood Ridge looked sharp, leading an impressive opening drive capped off by a 23-yard run from senior running back Cole McLafferty followed by a fumble recovery for a touchdown on Queen Creek’s ensuing possession to put them up 14-0 early.

Senior FS/WR Harrison Beemiller had the fumble recovery, flying all around the field on defense as well as making big plays on offense, even playing some quarterback. It’s Beemiller’s versatility that helps Ironwood Ridge gain an advantage.

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“He makes plays because he is so smart,” Johnson said. “He’s kind of a quarterback on both defense and offense. He is a good player, no doubt about it.”

Even falling so far behind to begin the game, Queen Creek never wavered and started working its way back in it, using its explosive running game to get the defenders to cheat in the box and then airing it out with Honea.

“At Queen Creek, we are kind of known as a running team,” Schureman said. “We get a lot of nine people in the box and it opens up the defense for Kaleb (Honea).”

After being down 21-10 late in the second quarter, Honea cut the deficit by throwing a 39-yard bomb to Woods. The two-point conversion was successful, pulling Queen Creek to within three at the half.

PHOTOS: On the sidelines – High school football 2015

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Queen Creek battles in back-and-forth thriller

Queen Creek rallies from 14 points down to beat Ironwood Ridge.

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