FRANCISCO MEDINA/Tucson Citizen

Sunnyside's Xavier Smith is stopped on one of his four tries to get into the end zone from the 3-yard line by Saguaro in the fourth quarter.

CLASS 4A STATE PLAYOFFS: Blue Devils shut out


Pair of field goals wins it for Scottsdale Saguaro

MICHAEL CACCAMISE
Tucson Citizen 

The dream season for the Sunnyside High School football team ended in a nightmare delivered by the foot of Scottsdale Saguaro kicker Juan Bongarra and a relentless Sabercat defense.

Bongarra kicked two first-half field goals and gave the visiting Sabercats all the points they would need in a 6-0 upset of the Blue Devils in the second round of the Class 4A state playoffs.

Sunnyside's hopes of defending the 4A state title it won last year vanished, as did its 23-game win streak.

"They outplayed us today," Sunnyside head coach Richard Sanchez said.

Scottsdale Saguaro will play Glendale Cactus in a semifinal contest next week.

Bongarra's kicks came on distances of 24 yards in the first quarter and 45 yards in the second.

"It feels great," Bongarra said. "We're both great teams. We both wanted the same thing, to be state champions."

Saguaro's defense was the real story.

The Sabercats held Sunnyside star running back and University of Arizona-bound Xavier Smith to just 22 yards on 14 carries.

And no one at either school will soon forget a goal-line stand for the ages by the Sabercats.

With just four minutes left, Sunnyside quarterback Jaime Cota completed a 57-yard pass to George Garza that set up the Blue Devils at first-and-goal from the 3-yard line.

Smith then got the ball on four straight runs up the middle - but he and Sunnyside's season ended just inches short of the end zone.

Saguaro took over with 2:09 left and ran out the clock on quarterback keepers by John Sanders.

"Our defense has been our backbone all year," Saguaro head coach Mike Reardon said. "A lot of things were going through my head there, but I was mainly thinking about the offensive series we would've needed had they scored."

Sunnyside, averaging 47.4 points and 381.2 yards per contest, couldn't do anything against a huge Saguaro defensive line. The Blue Devils were held to 126 yards.

Quarterback Jaime Cota was out of sync all game after barely practicing this week due to an injury he suffered in last week's win over Flagstaff Coconino.

Cota completed 8 of 20 passes for 99 yards as the Blue Devils failed to advance to the state semifinals for the first time since 1999.

Sunnyside was also penalized 13 times for 80 yards, killing momentum any time it started to get rolling.

But Sanchez maintained his team was just beaten.

"They were penalized, too," he said. "There's nothing we can do. They were the better team tonight."

Tyler Porras led the ground game for Saguaro with 74 rushing yards on 18 carries, and Sanders was just 6 of 16 for 60 yards.

It was the last 4A game for Sunnyside for at least two years, because the school moves up to 5A next season.