Sotelo’s TD pass to Spivey gives No. 7 Salpointe win over No. 10 Williams Field in double-OT

Salpointe celebrates its thrilling 36-33 double-overtime victory over Williams Field in the first round of the 6A state playoffs (Javier Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

Three of Salpointe’s losses in its 7-4 season were by a field goal in two of them and six points in another.

One of the three-point losses was an overtime setback at Scottsdale Chaparral to start the season.

Eric Rogers’ team is this close to being 10-1 right now.

“We’ve been in these tight games,” he said. “So I think that helped us. Because of the experience of playing in tight ball games, it came down to the last play.”

That play was Fred Sotelo’s 7-yard touchdown pass to Nate Spivey on a second-down play in double-overtime, giving the No. 7 Lancers a 36-33 win over No 10 Williams Field at Ed Doherty Stadium.

“I got a little pressure from my right side,” Sotelo said. “He slid. Honestly, I saw that (Spivey) was open. I just gave him a shot and he came down with it.”

Salpointe will next play at No. 2 Gilbert Highland (8-3) next Friday. Highland eliminated No. 15 Gilbert Perry 57-22 on Friday night.

The Lancers looked as if they could pull away from Williams Field similar to when they defeated the 6A East Valley foe 31-14 on Oct. 21 at Salpointe.

A 57-yard interception return for a touchdown by linebacker Damian Coley after highly-touted defensive end Elijah Rushing tipped the ball in the air at the line gave Salpointe a 16-9 lead with 1:03 left before halftime.

Salpointe had possession at the beginning of the second half and Sotelo’s 65-yard touchdown pass to Gage Felix increased the lead to 23-9 with 10:26 left in the third quarter.

Sotelo completed 15 of 19 passes for 176 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Felix had four receptions for 104 yards.

“We have confidence in ourselves; we tell ourselves, we talk to each other and we have this next-play mentality,” Sotelo said. “We’re a next-play mentality team and it got us through this.”

Williams Field scored the next two touchdowns after the Salpointe offense became stagnant against the Black Hawks’ defense, led by coordinator Kelvin Hunter, a cornerback for Arizona’s 12-1 team in 1998.

A muffed punt gave Williams Field possession at the Salpointe 26 with 7:14 remaining. Seven plays later, Joshua Dye rushed for a 4-yard touchdown to tie the game at 28 with 4:08 left. Dye rushed for 125 yards on 25 carries while fellow back Dylan Lee amassed 68 yards on 18 rushes.

A significant play occurred when Salpointe punter/placekicker Carson Fiske kicked a coffin-corner 52- yard punt that bounced out of bounds at the Williams Field 2 with 2:01 left.

“How big was that?” kicking-game coordinator Pierre Arnaud said of the punt by Fiske, who earlier made a 44-yard field goal. “The kid had a great game.”

Williams Field was forced to punt from its 4 with 27.9 seconds left and Salpointe took over at the Black Hawk 41 with 21.8 seconds left in regulation. After Sotelo completed a 14-yard pass to Felix, Fiske lined up for a 44-yard game-winning field goal with 6 seconds left but the attempt was blocked.

The game headed into overtime tied at 23.

“We know what we can do. We know the guys that we have. We know we can make a difference,” Rushing said of confidence level of the team in another tight game. “We have that spark. We have the opportunity.”

Each team gets possession at the 10-yard line in overtime in high school.

Salpointe scored first Bettis Roberts’ 1-yard run but Williams FIeld answered on its first play, a pass from Travis Ebner to a wide-open Briton Stanton to tie the game at 30 and force a second overtime.

Williams Field had possession to start the next frame and was called for a holding penalty that moved the ball to the 20. On third down at the 10, defensive end Keona Wilhite busted through for the sack forcing the Black Hawks to try a 35-yard field.

Nick Clegg made the attempt to put Williams Field ahead 33-30 but the Lancers knew a touchdown would win it.

“We feel like we have one of the best D-lines in the state,” Rushing said. “We just constantly pound. Someone’s going to get an opportunity to make a play. That’s what one of our guys (Wilhite) did.”

After a 3-yard run by Roberts, Sotelo fielded a low snap, side-stepped a defender to his left, noticed Spivey break free slightly from two defenders and hit Spivey in the numbers in the end zone for the 7-yard touchdown to give Salpointe the win.

“It was a sigh of relief, man (when he saw Spivey make the catch) going into the next round,” Sotelo said. “A lot of people didn’t think we were going to make the playoffs so we’re proving everybody wrong and we’re going to keep doing that.”

The victory means Salpointe will gather at its campus on Thanksgiving Day to prepare for another playoff game, something achieved in all three years of Rogers’ tenure.

“I like our group — they’re tough, they’re gritty, they’re resilient,” Rogers said. “We’re just going to have to battle for 48 minutes, get on the road again … but I told the kids, ‘Listen, there is nothing in my opinion that’s greater than practicing on Thanksgiving.

“That’s my favorite holiday in the whole wide world — so much to be grateful for, so much to be thankful for … to be able to be around these guys and our coaching staff on Thursday morning, that’s special.”


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. He became an educator five years ago and is presently a special education teacher at Gallego Fine Arts Intermediate in the Sunnyside Unified School District.

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