If Desert Vista’s traditional Senior Walk on Friday would have replicated the Thunder’s first-round win over Basha it would have been a little herky jerky instead of the methodical take-it-all-in process it is meant to be.
The 30-or-so seniors would have had to sprint the first quarter of the 200-yard process, then slow it down until the final 10 yards where the Thunder would have had to scramble to finish it off.
It pretty much sums up Desert Vista’s 35-28 win over Basha that saw 49 points scored in the first quarter before everyone settled in only to see the Bears make one last frantic stab at sending the game in overtime.
Fittingly, a senior – Austin Hicks to be exact – ended that final flurry by the Basha offense when he scooped a tipped pass with one hand just before it touched down in the end zone to secure the victory with 13 seconds left.
“Everyone came in and it was a scramble,” said Hicks, who had a 94-yard kickoff return for touchdown return for a short-lived 13-7 lead. “The quarterback threw and it bounced off (the receiver’s) hand and I was able to reach out and it get it. There was no way I was going to let it hit the ground.”
The second half was filled with long drives that led to little scoring other than Desert Vista’s opening drive when the Thunder went 10 plays, including six runs for 41 yards by senior Jarek HIlgers, who finished off the drive with a 5-yard score on third down on his way to 142 yards on 20 attempts.
After that both offenses had long drives that came up empty.
The Desert Vista defense, which had five total sacks and a shutout in the second half, had two big stops to ensure the sixth-seeded Thunder (9-2) got another matchup at No. 3 Hamilton (9-2) in the quarterfinals on Friday.
Basha, trailing by seven, took over on the Thunder 20 with 5 minutes and 12 seconds remaining when Jake Carlin recovered a fumble after Dalton Crum sacked Desert Vista quarterback Matt Young.
The 11th-seeded Bears (7-4) came up empty on the drive after it started with a sack of Basha quarterback Zach Werlinger (22 of 47, 2 INT, 301 yards, 3 TDs) and ended on an incomplete pass to Nate Phillips (10, 124 yards, 1 TD) on fourth down.
Desert Vista couldn’t run out the clock and the Bears took over at their own 30 with 1:34 left. The big play was a 43-yard pass to Ronnie Querry, who broke several tackles down to the Thunder 11. After a Thunder penalty moved it to the 6, Werlinger threw to the right side only to have Hicks’ secure the win with the interception.
“This is horrible and it was just like last year,” Basha junior running back Rajhan Meriwether said, referring to the Thunder’s 42-32 semifinal win. “I do not like that team at all. They beat us two years in a row and I want to get revenge on them.”
The first quarter was a nutty, back-and-forth affair that saw four touchdowns scored in the final 2 minutes.
“We settled in and got it going,” Hinds said. “They went out and won a big game and played hard. The defense stepped up big, especially at the end when we really needed. They came to play.”
The Thunder’s running game, behind an offensive line that was missing two starters and one backup, started strong as wide receiver Kaleb Germinaro scored twice on fly sweeps.
The second one tied it at 21 with 16 seconds left in first quarter and answered two straight scores by the Bears, who had taken a 21-13 lead with the second score being a 30-yard strike from Werlinger to Phillips after a Thunder fumble.
Basha tried to respond but the Thunder’s Nick Farina took an interception back 42 yards for the score to end the 12 minutes of Arena Football-type pace of game.
The second half took it easy on the scoreboard operator but there was plenty of action back and forth. Basha bobbled a punt snap in its own territory, but the Thunder followed up with an interception.
The Bears got down to the Thunder 7 and faced a 4th down and 1 only to false start leading to another great play by Hicks, who broke up a pass to Querry.
“He’s a real player and loves football,” Hinds said. “He’s playing out of his mind right now.”
The Thunder are hardly healthy, but they are alive with at least one more game to go. The Senior Walk is in the books, but it doesn’t mean this group is done.
“We are fully ready,” Hicks said. “Bring them on. It lit our eyes up (knowing they had a chance to Hamilton again) and we wanted them so bad. We love playing people and Hamilton is great competition. We have to play the best to be the best.”
Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or JSkoda@ahwatukee.com. Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.
Desert Vista 35, Basha 28
B 21 7 0 0 --28
DV 28 0 7 0 -- 35
DV – Germinaro 54 run (Schwartz kick), 8:20
B – Querry 28 pass from Werlinger (Day kick), 5:45
DV – Hicks 94 kickoff return (kick failed), 5:30
B – Werlinger 14 run (Day kick), 2:00
B – Phillips 30 pass from Werlinger, 1:06
DV – Germinaro 14 run (Hilgers run), :16
DV – Farina 42 interception return (Schwartz kick), 0:00
B – Brooks 6 pass from Werlinger (Day kick), 27.5
DV – Hilgers 5 run (Schwartz kick), 7:15
First downs 19 15
Rushing 31-121 32-239
Passing 22-48-2-301 8-15-1-78
Fum/lost 0-0 4-3
Penalties 6-40 5-37
Basha – Meriwether 12-62, Werlinger 14-29, Phillips 3-18, Conrad 1-5, Marxman 1-7. Desert Vista – Hilgers 20-142, Germinaro 5-64, Young 5-27, Gonzalez 2-6.
Basha – Werlinger 22-47-2-301, Phillips 0-1-0-0. Desert Vista – 8-15-1-78.
Basha – Phillips 10-124, Querry 5-97, Brooks 3-22, Duran 1-6, Marxman 1-15, Meriwether 1-6, Perrone 1-10. Desert Vista – Gonzalez 2-29, Farina 2-23, Hilgers 2-16, Matykiewicz 1-6, Germinaro 1-4.
Missed FG: DV (54, Schwartz).