The No. 6-seeded Queen Creek football team won Friday’s 5A first-round playoff game in a different way than you may have figured.
The Bulldogs shelved their highly-effective power-rushing game in favor of the right arm of sophomore quarterback Devin Larsen, who threw for six touchdowns in a 62 – 0 rout of No. 11 Desert View on Friday night.
“It was a great game from a passing standpoint tonight,” Queen Creek head coach Travis Schureman told Sports360AZ.com after the game. “We talk all the time about taking what teams give us and we felt like we could come in and throw the ball a little bit.”
A little bit?
The Bulldogs were throwing from the start. Their opening drive consisted of three passes, the last a 44-yard touchdown from Larsen to senior receiver Ian Woods. By the end of the first quarter Larsen completed 10-of-11 passes, including three for touchdowns.
Queen Creek did not call a running play until midway through the second quarter and finished the first half with only four rushing attempts.
Larsen, meanwhile, didn’t give the Bulldogs’ coaching staff any reason to change the uncharacteristic pass-heavy play calling. The sophomore signal-caller finished the game 18-of-22 for 350 yards and six touchdowns, all of those numbers coming in a first half that ended with the Bulldogs’ leading, 49 – 0.
“Our goal this week was to pass the ball a little bit more,” Larsen said. “We came out here and did that, and it worked out really well for us.”
It indeed worked out on Friday night and should work out going forward in the playoffs as well. Future Bulldogs’ opponents now to have plan for a passing game that’s shown to be as equally effective as the rushing attack.
Friday’s win sets up a rematch with No. 3-seed Ironwood Ridge. The Bulldogs won the game earlier this season, 37 – 12.
In that game, senior running back Jace Koester accounted for 147 of his team’s 199 rushing yards and four touchdowns. Larsen was an efficient 10-of-15 for 112 yards and a touchdown.
Queen Creek may not be the team the Nighthawks remember from the week-five game, especially after Friday’s pass-happy performance.
“We chose to pass more because we need to open up our abilities to make a run in the playoffs,” said Woods, who caught seven passes for 170 yards and four touchdowns in Friday’s win. “People know we’re a run-first team, so as long as we can be more diverse that gives (them) more things to fear.”
Queen Creek was diverse on Friday night and the result was a lopsided victory in which it passed for more yards than it rushed – 350 to 180.