No. 5 Sabino beat No. 12 Safford 45-7 on Saturday night to advance to the 3A quarterfinal round. As luck would have it, No. 13 Winslow pummeled No. 4 Monument Valley 40-6, making the Sabercats the home team in the quarterfinal round to be played next Saturday at 6 p.m.
Both teams had difficulty moving the ball in the first quarter but the Sabercats drove down to the 19-yard line only to give the back to Safford on downs. The drive was not an empty effort because it set up a shorter field for the Sabercats and they eventually got the ball back on the 34.
Alex Bell ripped off a 14-yard run a few plays later to set Sabino up at the 13. Bell hit Andrew Carlsen two plays later on a 13-yard pass to put Sabino up 7-0 with 5:49 left in the first half. The lead did not last long with the Bulldogs connecting on two deep passes to tie it up 7-7.
First, Manuel Aparicio hit Brock Romero for 33 yards and then Payson Harsh found Eric Estrada from 38 yards out for the score. It was the last time the Bulldogs would see the end zone.
Bell hit Carlsen from 10 yards out on the next drive to put Sabino up 14-7 and the Sabercats never looked back.
Bell finished with 158 yards passing with three TDs. Carlson collected two of those touchdowns and finished with a game-high 82 yards receiving. Bell ran for 168 yards with another touchdown, giving him over 300 yards of offense.
University of Arizona commit Drew Dixon rushed for 34 yards and a TD, threw for 38 more yards and picked up 60 yards receiving with a touchdown.
Isaiah Smotherman rushed for the other touchdowns. Bennett Nottingham kicked a 32-yard field goal. Luke Moran had an interception.
In all, Sabino collected 466 yards of offense.
On the other side, the Sabino defense held Safford to only 146 yards in the game. Aparicio led his team with 43 yards rushing, Estrada had 50 yards receiving and Romero added 35 more.
The Bulldog defense also came up big at times and held the Sabercats on downs three times including a dramatic series where Sabino was stopped three times at the 1-yard line.
Safford ended with a 5-6 record and Sabino improved to 10-1. Winslow is 7-4 and will travel to Sabino next Saturday.
No. 10 Pusch Ridge lost to No. 7 NW Christian 28-21 in other 2A action.
Santa Cruz, Thatcher and Benson will all advance to the 2A quarterfinal round.
SATURDAY NOV. 5
3A FOOTBALL FIRST ROUND
No. 5 Sabino beat No. 12 Safford, 45-7
No. 10 Pusch Ridge lost to No. 7 NW Christian, 28-21
2A FOOTBALL FIRST ROUND
No. 2 Santa Cruz beat No. 15 Alchesay, 64-0
No. 3 Thatcher beat No. 14 Chandler Prep, 51-6
No. 5 Benson beat No. 12 Tombstone, 63-25
No. 16 Bisbee lost to No. 1 Round Valley, 72-0
1A FOOTBALL SEMIFINALS
No.4 St. David lost to No. 1 Bagdad, 54-12
THURSDAY NOV. 10
4A FOOTBALL QUARTERFINALS
No. 4 Salpointe hosts No. 5 Marcos de Niza, 7 p.m.
No. 6 Catalina Foothills at No. 3 Sunrise Mountain, 7 p.m.
5A FOOTBALL QUARTERFINALS
No. 1 Cienega hosts No. 9 Mesquite, 7 p.m.
No. 3 Ironwood Ridge hosts No. 6 Queen Creek, 7 p.m.
No. 7 Marana at No. 2 Williams Field, 7 p.m.
SATURDAY NOV. 12
2A FOOTBALL QUARTERFINALS
No. 2 Santa Cruz hosts No. 10 Scottsdale Christian, 6 p.m.
No. 3 Thatcher hosts No. 6 Phoenix Christian, 6 p.m.
No. 5 Benson at No. 4 Pima, 6 p.m.
3A FOOTBALL QUARTERFINALS
No. 5 Sabino hosts No. 13 Winslow, 6 p.m.
Andy Morales was recognized by the AIA as the top high school reporter in 2014 and has been a youth, high school and college coach for over 30 years. His own children have won multiple state high school championships and were named to all-state teams. Competing in hockey, basketball, baseball and track & field in high school, his unique perspective can only be found here and on AZPreps365.com. Contact Andy Morales at AMoralesMyTucson@yahoo.com