Bradshaw Mountain High's football team is moving on to the quarterfinals of the Arizona Interscholastic Association's Division III state playoffs after coming from behind and hanging on late to upset Arcadia in a first-round game Friday night, Nov. 6, in Phoenix.
The 12th-seeded Bears, who failed to make it past the first round of the playoffs in 2013 and 2014 and hadn't won a postseason game since 2010, upset No. 5-seed Arcadia, 21-15, to improve their record to 8-3 overall.
"Our No. 1 goal in the off-season when we sat town with the team in December was to make it back to the playoffs and win a playoff game," second-year Bradshaw Mountain coach David Moran said. "And our kids stuck with that goal. We couldn't get the section (title), so we focused on the playoffs."
Sunnyslope defeated Vista Grande in their D-III first-round playoff Friday and will host Bradshaw in Phoenix at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 13, in the quarterfinals.
"We've got to dial in next week, and it starts Saturday morning," Moran said. "We're going to focus up and see what Sunnyslope has to offer."
On Friday, Bradshaw quarterback Gunner Bundrick threw for 274 yards, completing 13-of-17 passes with two touchdowns and an interception in what was arguably the best performance of his prep career.
Bears wideout Daniel Otero hauled in six catches for 189 yards and two TDs. Tailback Angel Gonzalez played as crucial of a role, however, rushing for 114 yards on 19 carries and a TD. Ryan Shaver had four catches for 88 yards in a supporting role.
Moran was quick to credit the standout play of his offensive line, led by RJ Aguilar, John Trout, and Kobey Rushton.
"They carried us," Moran added.
He also praised Gonzalez, a two-way star on offense and defense.
"He just a competitor," Moran said. "He plays with a lot of heart. He's a great leader, and he carried us tonight, too."
Bradshaw trailed Arcadia 15-13 to open the fourth quarter before Bundrick connected with Daniel Otero on a long pass to get to the Arcadia 1-yard line.
On the next play, Gonzalez scored the touchdown for a 19-15 lead and David Otero scored on a 2-point conversion reception for a 21-15 lead with 10:19 left in regulation.
Bradshaw would later get the ball back and try to eat the clock but eventually had to punt.
On Arcadia's next drive, inside of 5 minutes to go, Arcadia quarterback Luke Ashworth suffered an injury on third down and wouldn't return. On 4th and 2 from the 40, the ball was snapped over the back-up QB's head and whistled dead at the Arcadia 28.
When the Bears got the ball back, Gonzalez ran it with 2:52 left. But a serious injury to Arcadia senior safety Kevin Hill stopped the game for a good half an hour, as Hill had to be taken off the field on a stretcher. His condition wasn't immediately known at press time.
When play resumed, Gonzalez carried to the Arcadia 15 and the Titans took their second timeout. At that point, Gonzalez had 18 carries for 115 yards on the ground.
Gonzalez then ran it to the Arcadia 3 for 1st and goal. Arcadia spent its last timeout with 1:37 left and the ball at the 2. Bundrick ran it on the keeper, but couldn't get in. Tick, tick, tick. On 3rd and goal from the 2, Gonzalez rushed. Again, nothing doing. Tick, tick, tick. With one last shot on fourth and goal from the 3, Derrik Fabela was stopped short with 3 seconds left at the 9.
Arcadia had one final play at the 9. With back-up QB Max Reid in the game, he took the ball in a shotgun formation, went back to pass and threw a long ball incomplete. Game over.
In a close game throughout, Bradshaw led 13-12 at halftime. But Arcadia ran back the opening kickoff of the second half all the way to the Bears' 30-yard line. Arcadia appeared to be in business, but Bradshaw's tough red-zone defense held Arcadia to only a field goal.
Arcadia senior kicker Riley Erickson booted his third field goal of the game, putting the Titans up, 15-13.
Bradshaw tried to bounce back with 8:08 left in the third quarter. On 3rd and goal from the 1-yard line, Derik Fabela was stopped short. And on 4th and goal, inside the 1, Bradshaw was stuffed again on the run to turn it over on downs.
Arcadia, on its ensuing drive and clinging to the 15-13 lead, benefited from a 15-yard personal foul penalty on third down to get to the Bradshaw 33. After a near interception, Bradshaw forced Arcadia to punt.
In the first half, Bundrick found David Otero on a 71-yard TD pass on the opening drive for 7-0 Bradshaw lead. Otero caught the ball in the flat before speeding to pay dirt.
Erickson drilled a 36-yard field goal to cut Bradshaw's edge to 7-3 with 7:53 left in the first quarter. And, about six minutes later, at the 1:48 mark, Ashford threw a TD pass to Erickson, but Bradshaw blocked the extra point to make it 9-7 Arcadia.
To begin the second quarter, Bundrick made his only true mistake, tossing an interception on deep pass intended for David Otero.
But Bradshaw's so-called "Black Plague" defense would hold when it mattered most. Erickson missed a 40-yard FG wide left to keep the score at 9-7.
On their ensuing drive, the Bears took the lead, 13-9, when Bundrick found David Otero on 30-yard TD pass, as Otero had 131 yards receiving and two TDs to that point. Bundrick's 2-point conversion run failed with 4:11 left in the second quarter.
On Arcadia's ensuing possession, the Titans pushed the ball to the Bears' 15, but Bradshaw senior defensive lineman Zack Latham made a huge defensive stop to keep the Bears' narrow edge intact.
Later, with 32 seconds left until halftime, Bradshaw's defense held once more. Instead of giving up a TD, Erickson hit a 35-yard FG with 32 seconds left in the half.
The Bears then knelt on the ball to end the first half with the narrow 13-12 lead.
Email Doug Cook at email@example.com.