In the end the Panthers’ fourth interception of Bears’ star quarterback Gunner Bundrick proved to be just enough as the Peoria (8-3) escaped with a 29-24 victory in front of an electric crowd, setting a quarterfinal matchup against unbeaten Saguaro next week in Scottsdale.
Peoria’s defense set the tone early holding Bradshaw’s high-powered offense to just three points, taking a 16-3 lead into the locker room at halftime.
The second half featured several big plays from both offenses as the skill players began to take over. Bradshaw (8-3) was able to keep within striking distance in the fourth quarter as their defense kept Panthers’ duel-threat junior quarterback Nate Dobson off-balance and out-of-sync.
However, when the Panthers needed a stop, they got one when Elijah Neal high-pointed a Bundrick pass in front of the Peoria bench to seal the win and a big opportunity next week.
“They’re the number one seed for a reason,” head coach Will Babb said to Sports360AZ.com after the game. “They’re ranked nationally for a reason so we’re going to get to film, see what we do and try to be the best us we can be.”
It may not have been Peoria’s best “us” Friday night but you won’t hear too many complaints from the Panthers.