GILBERT — The Snowflake Lobos came about as close as possible to the program’s first state title game appearance in five years during a Division 3A semifinal appearance against top-seeded Queen Creek Benjamin Franklin on Saturday, Nov. 23.
Both of the teams showed the heart of a champion by establishing control of the line of scrimmage and answering opponents’ scores to trade the lead back and forth.
It all came down to one final drive for the Lobos, who were down 16-14 with nearly six minutes left in the game, but had begun to take control with their power running game.
Snowflake drove 61 yards in nine plays, with senior running back Brig Turley accounting for 50 of those yards, for a first-and-goal from the Ben Franklin 9. Three plays later, quarterback Ethan Ramage ran for an apparent touchdown on a 10-yard keeper, but the play was nullified because of a holding penalty.
“They called a hold out on the edge,” said Snowflake head coach Kay Solomon. “We never seem to get those calls. It was the right call and a great call by coach (Trevor) Reddick and Coach (Art) Hargrove.”
Two plays later, the Lobos attempted a 25-yard field goal with 23 1/2 seconds left to probably win it. The kick had plenty of distance but sailed wide left.
The Chargers took a knee and began celebrating victory and a spot in last Friday’s 3A final.
“I’m proud of our kids. I love our kids, they played their hearts out,” said Coach Solomon. “They did everything they could tonight. I just told them the sun comes up tomorrow, and sometimes in life you don’t get what you deserve, but you got to play on. We will go back to work and get ready for next year.”
Each team came into the game determined to establish a power run game and control the time of possession.
After stopping the Lobos on downs on the game’s first series, the Chargers drove 67 yards to open the scoring. BFHS quarterback Danner Bowen scored on a 3-yard keeper to cap an 11-play drive.
But the Lobos came right back with a 66-yard scoring drive of their own to tie the game. The 16-play drive was capped by Turley’s 7-yard TD run.
Bowen’s 40-yard return on the ensuing kickoff and dazzling 37-yard run to the Snowflake 8 led to a Charger field goal and Ben Franklin carried a 10-7 lead into halftime.
The second half began much like the first, with a reversal of fortunes.
The Lobos stopped the Chargers on downs on the first series of the third quarter, and the Lobos mounted a 77-yard scoring drive to take the lead. Terren Green scored on an 8-yard run to cap an 11-play drive, and the Lobos took a 14-10 lead with 49.6 seconds to play in the third quarter.
And just as the Lobos answered the Chargers’ first TD, Ben Franklin came right back, and after back-to-back turnovers deep in Snowflake territory, scored to take the lead once again. On the first play following an interception, junior Chancin Loving ran 7 yards for the score with 5:55 left in the game.
Snowflake held the edge in total yardage in a very physical game, played at a Gilbert Williams Field High stadium that was brimming with spectators.
The Lobos had 280 total yards of offense, including 194 yards rushing. Brig Turley led the team with 113 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries. Terren Green ran the ball 13 times for 70 yards and a TD.
Ramage was 8-of-14 passing for 86 yards but threw two interceptions, including one on the last play of the first half. Nick McVicker had two catches for 30 yards to lead the receivers in yardage. Turley had three catches for 20 yards; Welcome Chapman had a 27-yard reception.
“Brig and Terren are beasts and the offensive line up front was getting it done,” Coach Solomon said. “All of our coaching staff worked hard for this too. We love our fans, we love our community — what great support they have.
“This is a good football team. We deserve to be playing next week. I feel bad for them,” said the coach.
The Chargers were held to just 140 yards of offense but Bowen had 77 yards on kickoff returns. The senior QB was 5-of-8 passing for 58 yards.
The team had to abandon its double-wing offensive set at times to operate out of the shotgun in passing situations.
Loving led the team in rushing with 48 yards on 10 carries. Ammon Warby had 29 yards on five carries as BFHS was held to just 2.3 yards per carry (35 carries for 82 yards). Senior Zach Jefferies had 9 yards on six carries before leaving the game in the second quarter due to injury.
Snowflake ends its season with 10 wins and three losses.
Ben Franklin finishes at 12-2 following a 24-6 loss to American Leadership Academy - Queen Creek (13-1) on Friday, Nov. 29.
Arizona Interscholastic Association
Division 3A Football
Friday, Nov. 8
First Round at high seeds
No. 1 Queen Creek Ben Franklin 56, No. 16 Ganado 0
No. 9 ALA-Gilbert N. 27, No. 8 Coolidge 21
No. 5 Blue Ridge 35, No. 12 Phoenix AZ College Prep 13
No. 4 Snowflake 42, No. 13 Mohave Valley River Valley 7
No. 3 Phoenix NW Christian 49, No 14 Buckeye Odyssey Institute 7
No. 11 Yuma Catholic 24, No. 6 Chandler Valley Christian 15
No. 10 Tucson Sabino 30, No. 7 Safford 19
No. 2 ALA-Queen Creek 49, No. 15 Payson 13
Friday, Nov. 15
Second round at high seeds
Ben Franklin 35, ALA-Gilbert North 28
Snowflake 42, Blue Ridge 28
NW Christian 37, Yuma Catholic 34
ALA-QC 51, Sabino 26
Saturday, Nov. 23
At Gilbert Williams Field High
Ben Franklin 16, Snowflake 14
At Higley High
ALA-QC 39, NW Christian 24
At Gilbert Campo Verde High
Friday, Nov. 29
ALA-QC 24, Ben Franklin 6