Would anyone expect anything less then a great game in a Peoria v. Cactus match-up? Thats what the standing room only crowd got.
The teams exchanged scores in the first half and Peoria took a 10-7 lead into half time when kicker Kenneth Castellanos connected from 30 yards out with 6 seconds left in the first half.
Then the action started...
The Cactus defense forced a punt but on the Cobras' first drive, QB Talal Yousufzai, who sat out much of the 1st half with a foot injury, was picked off by corner Evan Ford, giving the Panthers the ball at the 13 yard line.
Two Akeem Rutledge runs later and Peoria was up 17-7.
Cactus then fumbled the ball on the first play of the next drive and it was recovered by Peoria.
Cactus dodged a bullett. On 3rd and goal from the 1, Peoria jumped off sides twice and had to kick a field goal. 20-7 Peoria in the 3rd.
With Yousufazi out, sophomore Preston Guerra led the Cobras on a crucial drive to get back in the game.
Guerra hit Xavier Villareal in stride to put the ball on the 5 and then flipped a pass to Clayton Gilman for a score from 4 yards out. 20-14 Peoria but Cactus had life.
A bobbled snap by Peoria QB Anthony Guevera led to a sack by Devon Jones and forced a punt thwarting a promising drive.
Guerra hit Villareal again to give Cactus their first lead of the game with 6 minutes left in the game. 21-20.
With their undefeated season at stake, Peoria went on a 4 minute go-ahead scoring drive. Rutledge converted on 4th and 1 with a tough run to the to the 4 and scored 1 play later. Guevera ran the ball in for the two-point conversion and the Panthers took the lead back 28-21.
The Cobras got the ball back with 3 timeouts and 2:30 left on the clock and certainly made the game interesting.
Guerra hit Villareal on a 40 yard bomb to put the ball at the 33 yard line. The Cobras got as close as the 24 but Guerra's pass on 4th and 6 fell incomplete.
Final Peoria 28 Cactus 21
Great game. Ups and downs, turnovers, a huge crowd, rivalry game, game was decided on the last series. What else can you ask for? Congrats to Peoria coach Will Babb and his team's undefeated season.
Peoria RB Akeem Rutledge scored 2 TDs.