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Les Willsey

Staff Writer,

Seton goes vertical to upset defending champion Blue Ridge

Nov 23, 2012

Seton and most everyone knows the Division IV state title goes through the White Mountains. Blue Ridge taught them that last year in the semifinals with a 45-14 beating.

The Sentinels listened, but turned instructor Friday night with a vertical passing barrage in the first half  and a bend-don't-break defense that carried them to a 28-7 win over Blue Ridge at Northern Arizona's Walkup Skydome.

The title was the second in school history for Seton (13-1), which last won in 1997 when it was a member of the 2A Conference. Blue Ridge, which played an extra game this year representing Arizona against Nevada in the Sollenberger Classic in August, finished 14-1 and had its winning streak over nearly two seasons snapped at 28. Seton took out another White Mountain school, Show Low, in last week's semis, 42-14.

"Our offense got us off to a great start in the first half, and our defense was good the entire game," Seton coach Rex Bowser said. "Our offense gets so much publicity, but our defense has been good all year. We really believed we could beat them."

Senior quarterback Ryan Bresnahan, who missed six games with a broken passing hand,  passed for 208 yards and two touchdowns in the opening half and ran for a third score. Bresnahan didn't go to top receiver Matt Haggerty -- a 1,000-yard receiver this season -- very much. Bresnhan instead chose to take advantage of single coverage on Daniel Garlid on the other side to the tune of five catches for 143 yards and both TDs in the first 24 minutes. Each of Seton's three scoring drives in the first half -- in the game's first 13 minutes -- featured one pass completion of 38 yards or more.

"We have a lot of receivers," Bowser said. "If you key on Haggerty then we've got Garlid. Pick your poison." Each of Haggerty and Garlid had an 11-reception game in the postseason.

Seton opened the contest driving 62 yards in five plays. Garlid hauled in a 21-yard strike from Bresnahan to cap it just more than two minutes in. Blue Ridge, using its patented running game, returned the favor with a 48-yard march in five plays. Quarterback Skyler Hill scored from the 1 to tie the game at the 8:08 mark of the period.

Garlid and Brenahan hooked up from 46 yards less than four minutes later to take the lead for good, 14-7, A 39-yard completion from Bresnhan to Kaleb Krick helped set up Bresnahan's TD scramble. That made it 21-7 with 10 seconds elapsed in the second period.

Blue Ridge rushed for 69 yards in the first quarter and stayed determined to run. They finished the first half with 95 yards on 25 rushes. But its first possession after falling behind 21-7, the Yellow Jackets drove from their 20 to Seton's 20. The drive fizzled after penalty and a sack for loss. That drive took 8:34 off the clock.

The second half featured more of the same, unfortunately for Blue Ridge. Blue Ridge marched from its 20 to the Seton 5 eating up almost eight more minutes to begin the third quarter. A costly false-start penalty didn't help. Then on fourth-and-goal from the Seton10, Blue Ridge coach Paul Moro opted for a fake field-goal attempt. Holder Ben Watson was tackled at the 7, leaving Blue Ridge empty-handed again

Seton ran just 12 plays from scrimmage in the second half and didn't threaten to score the final two periods. Blue Ridge reached the red zone twice more in the final period. A stop by Seton on a fourth-and-three ended the first red-zone possession. The last Blue Ridge drive ended in six points for Seton. Linebacker Eric Probst hit Hill from the blindside and forced a fumble. Seton lineman  Connor Kathe recovered it and took it 88 yards to paydirt with 1:32 to play.

Blue Ridge finished with nice rushing total -- 316 yards on 60 attempts. They had the ball twice as long as Seton (32 minutes to 16 minutes). That meant pretty much nothing as Blue Ridge failed to score the final 44 minutes of the game.

Nolan Cook rushed for 156 tough yards for Blue Ridge on 27 carries. Hill added 67. Bresnahan finished 12-of-21 for 218 yards.