TEMPE, ARIZ.—The Blue Ridge Yellowjackets, riding a five-game winning streak, came into the 3A Quarterfinals hoping history would help influence the outcome of their game. Instead, the Wickenburg Wranglers made sure history wouldn’t repeat itself. The Wranglers used the arm of Drew Vaughn and the legs of Scott McKeever to help avenge four previous knockouts by the Yellowjackets to defeat Blue Ridge 26-23.
Wrangler quarterback Drew Vaughn, who had 1400 yards passing coming into this game, threw for 203 yards and three touchdowns on 7-10 passing. Running back Scott McKeever, himself with over 1300 yards rushing, ran for 107 yards on 19 carries and added 139 yards receiving on two touchdown receptions. Receiver Tyler Murphy contributed three receptions for 100 yards, including an 80-yard touchdown pass from running back Ben Root.
As the underdog, Blue Ridge’s chances started good, picking off Vaughn’s first pass of the game. That would be Vaughn’s only mistake. At 9:52 in the second quarter, Vaughn connected with Paul Wells for the first score of the game. Near the end of the first half, Blue Ridge had a chance to tie the game, but settled for a 41-yard field goal by soccer standout Francisco Bonilla to cut the lead to 7-3.
Any hopes of Blue Ridge capitalizing on their momentum was quickly dashed as Vaughn pitched to Ben Root on the second play of the third period, who then proceeded to hit a wide open Tyler Murphy for an 80-yard touchdown. Blue Ridge didn’t give up, moving about downfield and scoring on a Brian Williams to Frank Parkinson pass play the cut the lead to three.
Then Wickenburg combined the skills of Vaughn and McKeever, hooking up for an 80-yard screenplay that almost doused the hopes of the Yellowjackets. Not being undone, Blue Ridge again drove the length of the field, this time scoring on a Williams to Sterling Wise pass to bring the score to 20-17.
Wickenburg again decided to put a knife in the heart of the Yellowjackets on another Vaughn to McKeever screenplay to put the Wranglers of 26-17 with less than two minutes left in the game. Blue Ridge methodically drove the length of the field, scoring on another Williams to Wise touchdown pass to cut the lead to three again. Blue Ridge attempted an onside kick on the kickoff but Wickenburg recovered and ran out the clock to win 26-23.