Saguaro completes comeback over Hamilton in Open Division semifinal thriller

Photo: Billy Hardiman/Special for the Republic

Saguaro completes comeback over Hamilton in Open Division semifinal thriller


Saguaro completes comeback over Hamilton in Open Division semifinal thriller


The Saguaro hard-nosed defense and timely offensive plays in the second half beat Hamilton, 20-16, at the AIA Open Division semifinal round at Scottsdale Coronado on Saturday.

The seventh seed Hamilton (9-3) and third seed Saguaro (11-1) entered their matchup respectively averaging near 41 and 50 points per game this season.

Saguaro uncharacteristically didn’t score a single touchdown through the first half and posted two good field goals to enter halftime with a 16-6 score.

The Huskies led Saguaro through the 2:08 minute mark of the third quarter.

Hamilton had the first touchdown of the contest when senior running back Gabriel Armenta caught a 54-yard TD pass from QB Nick Arvay at the 4:41 minute mark in the first quarter and missed the extra point to go up 6-0.

The second TD by Hamilton was scored on a 13-yd pass with 4:11 left in the second quarter.

The Sabercats had a slow start as well as their QB Tyler Beverett who went 6-of-13 on his completions in the first half.

Saguaro junior wide receiver Denzel Burke kept the Sabercats close by catching two long balls for 38 and 54 yards each to put them in field goal range.

They frequently handed the ball to its best player and leading rusher, senior running back/cornerback Kelee Ringo (11 carries, 98 yards, 3 tackles, fumble).

The dynamic Ringo was contained by the Hamilton defense in the first half, only averaging five yards per carry compared to his season average of 16.5 in that category.

Hamilton blocked Saguaro’s punt from its own 45-yard line and rolled to the Saguaro 19 with under a minute left in the first quarter.

When they couldn’t score in the red zone, Hamilton settled for a 28-yard field goal and went up 9-0 to close the first quarter.

Armenta continued being the biggest producer on the ground for Hamilton and its starting QB Nick Arvay went 10-of-17 on his passes for 143 yards before he broke his collarbone and was sidelined halfway through the third quarter.

Saguaro senior RB David Soboyejo and senior WR Brandt Goodwin helped the Sabercats field position going a combined 243 all-purpose yards through the second half.

Hamilton didn’t score for the entire second half, largely because of its top pass rushers Tristan Monday and Damian Sellers who had 8 sacks and 11 tackles total for 35 yards lost between them.

The first TD for Saguaro was made by junior backup ATH Xander Werner on a 35-yd catch at the 2:08 minute mark in the third quarter to decrease the lead to 16-13.

At the 7:34 minute mark, Saguaro senior tight end/linebacker Will Shaffer moved from the the defense to the offense and heroically rushed for a 41-yard TD and the Sabercats took the lead 20-16.

There were multiple defensive plays by which the game’s momentum shifted in both teams favor with just two minutes remaining.

Read the rest of the story at the Arizona Republic.


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