The Chandler Cougars and Chandler Mustangs entered Saturday’s Phoenix AYF Pee Wee division championship game undefeated, but the Cougars mustered a come-from-behind, 14-12 win at Paradise Valley High School.
(Game photos, click here).
The top-seeded Cougars were slow on offense during the first half, but an energized team returned from the intermission, scored 14 points and earned a bid in the AYF national championships in Orlando.
The second-seeded Mustangs recovered their own opening kickoff at the Cougar 30 and scored five plays later when running back Braxton Baniszewski took a snap from the 5 and marched into the end zone. Baniszewski rushed for more than 60 yards in the game.
Stephen Fernandez took the field along with the rest of the Mustang defense and dominated the Cougar offense in the following series, racking up four tackles including a fourth-down sack for a loss that forced a turnover on downs.
The Cougar defense responded by forcing a fumble on an untimed down to end the first quarter, recovered by Parson Jaelon at the Cougar 44. The resulting drive was promptly shut down by Kobe Charles, who brought down Cougar back Kyler Burke for three short gains and a deflected pass on fourth down by Chandler Dutton.
Fernandez made another key fourth-down tackle for a loss that set up a five-play, 24-yard drive with less than a minute remaining in the half that resulted in a Heath Beemiller receiving touchdown thrown by Baniszewski.
After forcing a turnover on downs near midfield, the Cougars only took two plays to score on a 49-yard dash from Burke, who found a gap and beat defenders up the right side. A two-point conversion made it 12-8.
Riley O'Brien broke several tackles and made his way up the middle to score the winning touchdown from 9 yards out with eight minutes remaining, putting the Cougars up 14-12.
The Mustangs answered with a threatening drive down the field that ate up seven minutes on the clock. They looked to put the Cougars away, but Burke intercepted a pass in the red zone and returned it 45 yards, allowing the Cougars to run out the clock.