Andrew Wagner doesn’t get a ton of carries as the fullback in Arbor View’s double-wing offense.
But the senior proved to be quite a weapon on Friday night.
Wagner rushed for 88 yards and a touchdown on seven carries to help the Aggies to a 28-14 home win over Desert Oasis in the Sunset Region football semifinals.
“Andrew Wagner was running hard, and the kids were blocking up front for him,” Arbor View coach Dan Barnson said. “They kind of adjusted at halftime and kind of shut that down, and we started running outside a little more in the second half to do what we do, grind it out.”
Wagner, who had rushed for 256 yards on 37 carries entering the game, had a huge run late in the first half to help the Aggies (10-1) retake the momentum.
Desert Oasis (7-4) had just scored after forcing a turnover to cut the Arbor View lead to 13-7. But three plays later, Wagner took the inside handoff and found a huge hole, sprinting 37 yards for a touchdown and a 20-7 advantage with 2:47 left in the half.
“I think the big one was going right down before halftime and scoring,” Barnson said.
From there it was typical Arbor View offense: run right, run left, run center as the Aggies gained 292 yards on the ground.
“(We) just hit them in the mouth,” Arbor View quarterback Hayden Bollinger said. “Run and pound, every single play.”
That wasn’t quite true. The Aggies did go to the air a bit, with Bollinger completing 4 of 5 passes for 126 yards and a touchdown.
On the TD pass, Deago Stubbs snuck out of the backfield and Bollinger found him wide open near midfield. Stubbs stumbled as he made the catch but regained his balance and raced toward the end zone, shaking a defender inside the 10 to score for a 13-0 lead with 8:14 to go in the half.
“We kind of caught them off guard on that one,” Barnson said.
Bollinger got the Aggies on the board on their first possession, scoring from 1 yard out to cap an 11-play, 86-yard drive that took 4 minutes and 51 seconds off the clock.
Desert Oasis was forced to punt after Stubbs’ TD reception, but Noah Noce fumbled on the return, giving the ball back to the Diamondbacks at the Arbor View 44.
On fourth-and-1, quarterback Brannon Flowers lined up under center instead of taking his normal shotgun snap. He appeared to bobble the snap but recovered and found Jaden Mitchell all alone for a 35-yard TD pass to cut the lead to 13-7 with 3:59 to go.
Neither team scored in the third quarter, but the Aggies got on the board again on their first fourth-quarter possession, with Curtis Jones scoring on a 22-yard run. Morris Jackson added the 2-point conversion for a 28-7 advantage with 10:34 to play.
Flowers came through on fourth down again, hitting Orionne Addison with a 4-yard TD pass with 4:47 to go cut the lead in half.
“We just played Arbor View football,” Bollinger said. “We believed. We came out here working every single play. We wanted it more than they did.”
Jackson led the rushing attack with 90 yards on nine carries, and Jones had 85 yards on 10 attempts.
Flowers completed 15 of 22 passes for 127 yards and also rushed for 58 yards to lead the Diamondbacks. Ty’shun McClinton added 75 yards on 20 carries for Desert Oasis.
The Aggies now must prepare for the nation’s top-ranked team. Arbor View plays at Bishop Gorman (12-0) in the Sunset final next Friday.
“It starts tomorrow morning,” Bollinger said. “We’ve got to work every single day. Harder and harder.
“I believe we’ve got a shot. We’ve got kids on this team that believe. And believing goes a long way.”
Contact prep sports editor Damon Seiters at 702-380-4587 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @DamonSeiters