Whatever Queen Creek head coach Joe Germaine said to his defense at halftime it certainly worked.
Down 17-14 to the Thunderbird Chiefs at intermission, the second-seeded Bulldogs scored two fourth quarter touchdowns and rode their stout defense to a 28-17 win punching their ticket to Division III semi-finals next week.
Early it looked like we’d see plenty of offense in the far east valley as the 10th-seeded Chiefs took the opening kickoff and quickly marched down the field. The drive was hi-lighted by sensational senior running back Kani Benoit’s 27-yard run deep into the red zone. Two plays later Thunderbird scored on Darren Dorrsey’s two-yard plunge.
As they did all night, Queen Creek would answer mixing runs and passes to keep the Chiefs defense off-balance. Steady senior quarterback Carson Jones hit Colton Moore over the middle and he took it in from 18 yards out to the tie the score.
As he’s done so many times in his career, Benoit answered with a score of his own in the closing minutes of the first quarter to put Thunderbird back on top.
However it would be the final time he would reach the end zone in his prep career as the Bulldogs defense pitched a second half shutout to the delight of a capacity crowd at QCHS. Benoit finished with a 191 yards on 29 carries, but was overshadowed by Queen Creek junior tailback Matt Guida who tallied a jaw-dropping 286 yards on 31 carries.
The Bulldogs out gained Thunderbird 333-250 on the ground.
Jones was efficient through the air as well completing 11 of 18 for 136 yards with the one touchdown and no interceptions.
The Dogs will next face 14th-seed Nogales who’s magical run continued Friday night with an upset road win over 11-seed Sunrise Mountain.