STAR OF THE NIGHT
RHETT RODRIGUEZ, SENIOR QB, CATALINA FOOTHILLS
Rhett Rodriguez of Catalina Foothills threw three touchdowns to engineer a comeback and subsequent 35-31 victory over visiting Scottsdale Cactus Shadows Friday night in a Class 4A state playoff first round game. His third touchdown pass to receiver Bryan Beckon cut Cactus Shadows’ lead to 28-20. Rodriguez’s then threw a 71-yard strike to receiver Jimmy Stewart, which led to a 6-yard TD run by Derrick Murray. Rodriguez’s two-point conversion run tied the game at 28 with 1:22 left in the third quarter. After Cactus Shadows made a field goal with 6:40 left, Rodriguez engineered a game-winning scoring drive, capped by a 32-yard touchdown run by Murray to put Catalina Foothills up 35-31. An interception by Brandon Smith sealed the victory.
Rodriguez finished with 263 yards passing on 12 completions in 18 attempts. He rushed eight times for 66 yards.
CLOSE RUNNERS UP:
— Ironwood Ridge’s Garrett Billings had six receiving touchdowns to tie a state playoff record in the Nighthawks’ 50-20 win over Flowing Wells.
— Marana’s Connor Leavens three threw touchdown passes and scored the game-winning touchdown with a run in the waning seconds of the Tigers’ 28-21 win over Kellis.
FIRST ROUND MATCHUPS
No. 11 Tucson (6-5) at No. 6 Chandler Hamilton (7-4).
— Hamilton 47-30 F
No. 16 Laveen Betty H. Fairfax (8-3) at No. 1 Cienega (11-0)
— Cienega 49-15 F
No. 9 Gilbert Mesquite (8-3) at No. 8 Marana Mountain View (7-4)
— Mesquite 21-19 F
No. 14 Flowing Wells (6-5) at No. 3 Ironwood Ridge (9-2)
— Ironwood Ridge 50-20 F
No. 11 Desert View (8-3) at No. 6 Queen Creek (9-2)
— Queen Creek 62-0 F
No. 10 Glendale Raymond S. Kellis (9-2) at No. 7 Marana (9-2)
— Marana 28-21 F
5A QUARTERFINALS THURS 7 P.M.
Mesquite at Cienega
Queen Creek at Ironwood Ridge
Marana at Williams Field
No. 16 Amphi (8-3) at No. 1 Scottsdale Saguaro (11-0), 7 p.m.
— Saguaro 56-7 F
No. 13 Canyon del Oro (6-5) at No. 4 Salpointe Catholic (9-2), 7 p.m.
— Salpointe 10-6 F
No. 11 Scottsdale Cactus Shadows (6-5) at No. 6 Catalina Foothills (9-2), 7 p.m.
— Catalina Foothills 35-31 F
4A QUARTERFINALS THURS 7 P.M.
Catalina Foothills at Sunrise Mountain
Marcos de Niza at Salpointe
No. 12 Safford (5-5) at No. 5 Sabino (9-1), 6 p.m.
No. 10 Pusch Ridge (7-3) at Phoenix Northwest Christian (8-2), 6 p.m.
No. 16 Bisbee (4-6) at No. 1 Round Valley (10-0), 6 p.m.
No. 12 Tombstone (6-4) at No. 5 Benson (8-2), 6 p.m.
No. 14 Chandler Prep (8-2) at No. 3 Thatcher (8-2), 6 p.m.
No. 15 Alchesay (7-3) at No. 2 Santa Cruz Valley (9-0), 6 p.m.
No. 4 St. David (7-2) vs. No. 1 Bagdad (9-0), Maricopa High School, 6:30 p.m.
— Cienega’s Jamarye Joiner ran 32 yards for a touchdown to lead off the scoring against Fairfax. Joiner then completed a 22-yard TD pass to Terrell Hayward to put the Bobcats up 14-0. The Joiner-Hayward connection produced another touchdown, of 44 yards, giving the Bobcats a 21-0 lead.
— Tyler Hammons scored on a 1-yard run for the Bobcats.
— By halftime, Joiner had 127 yards passing and 61 rushing with three TD passes and one rushing TD and INT. Hayward had 115 yards receiving, two TDs and an interception.
— Cienega’s Thomas Webb Jr. scored on a 34-yard run in the fourth quarter.
— Ironwood Ridge’s Garrett Billings scored six receiving touchdowns for the Nighthawks to tie a state record in a playoff game.
— Flowing Wells QB Dylan Allison completed a 25-yard TD pass to TJ Florence. He later ran for a 12-yard score.
— Rhett Rodriguez of Catalina Foothills threw two touchdowns in the first half, both to WR Bryan Beckon (10 yards and 62 yards).
— At the half, Rodriguez was 9 of 16 for 168 yards and 2 TDs. He had five rushes for 26 yards.
— The Rodriguez-Beckon connection worked again for a 30-yard TD to cut Cactus Shadows’ lead to 28-20 in the third quarter. Rodriguez’s 71-yard pass to Jimmy Stewart led to a 6-yard scoring run by Derrick Murray. Rodriguez ran in the two-point conversion to tie the game at 28.
— Murray’s 32-yard TD run with 4:21 left in the fourth quarter put Catalina Foothills up 35-31.
— Beckon finished with seven receptions for 178 yards and three touchdowns. In addition to the game-saving interception at the end, Brandon Smith had 10 tackles including a sack.
— Salpointe’s Cameron Scharf made a 36-yard field goal to put the Lancers ahead 3-0 over CDO. The Dorados answered with a 30-yard FG by Ramon Borbon.
— Borbon kicked a 23-yard FG to put the Dorados up 6-3 over Salpointe in the third quarter.
— Salpointe running back Mario Padilla rushed for a 25-yard score to give the Lancers a 10-6 lead in the third quarter. The Lancers’ lead was secured by an interception by Rodrigo Nieto.
— Connor Leavens had two TD passes for Marana in the first half against Kellis. He passed for another in the third quarter. Leavens scored the game-winning touchdown with 29.9 seconds left, putting Marana ahead 28-21 over Kellis.
— Tucson’s Joe Barajas made a 30-yard field goal and Jorge Flores scored on a 1-yard QB keeper to account for the Badgers’ scoring in the first half (they trailed 31-10 at halftime). D.J. Hinton scored on a 43-yard run in the third quarter for Tucson.
— The Badgers’ Brian Lopez scored on a 30-yard run in the fourth quarter.
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.