By John Phelps
Taking advantage of mistakes by the other team most often times results in a victory.
And while they were plagued by injuries to some of their key offensive players, that’s exactly what Mesa Skyline relied on in its 17-10 come-from-behind win over host Mesa in Division I, Section III football action Friday night.
Trailing 10-9 with just under three minutes left in regulation, Mesa Skyline (6-3, 1-3) capitalized on costly penalties by Mesa that ultimately led to senior running back Logan Ruppert’s one-yard scoring run with 2:42 left in regulation.
That proved to be the difference as Mesa had the ball one last time but couldn’t convert on fourth-and-seven from its own 23-yard line.
“What’s keeping us alive and going is making the playoffs,” said Mesa Skyline senior quarterback Michael Amado, who quietly tossed for 116 yards on 7-of-18 completions.
“We did just enough. Some of our running backs were limited by injuries and the receivers really stepped up and made some great catches at crucial parts of the game.”
Ruppert also scored Mesa Skyline’s first touchdown, a three-yard plunge with 4:29 left in the third frame to cut the deficit to one but the two-point conversion was no good.
Meanwhile, Mesa (3-6, 0-4) played a near perfect first half as it staked to a 10-0 lead. The defense held Mesa Skyline two just 62 total yards, including 6 on the ground while having 13-2 edge in first downs. Penalties wreaked havoc with Mesa Skyline in the first half as well. For the game, they were flagged 13 times for 110 yards. Mesa tried its best to catch up to that mark in the second half and in specific the fourth quarter, when it was flagged 3 times for 40 yards, all on Mesa Skyline’s eventual game winning drive.
Mesa took the opening drive of the game 80 yards in 14 plays, including two big fourth-and-one conversions. The drive was capped off by junior tailback Turrell Pietz-Noble’s 11th touchdown of the season, a two-yard run with 6:03 left in the opening act.
Senior place-kicker Noe Pereles then booted a 40-yard field goal for the 10-0 lead with just seven seconds left in the intermission.
With that field goal, Pereles broke Mark Kelly’s 1995 single-season record with nine made field goals. It also tied Kelly’s mark of 13 career field goals made.
But the Mesa offense and Pietz-Noble were stymied in the second half. Pietz-Noble, who came into the game second in Section III with 958 yards and 10 touchdowns, was held to 21 yards in the second half. He finished with 67 yards on 19 carries and the one touchdown.
“We did a great job of taking Pietz-Noble out of the game,” Mesa Skyline second-year coach Angelo Pauffumi said. “We showed a lot of character tonight when it seemed like the world was against us.”
Mesa Skyline senior running back Cisco Avitia, who rushed for a whopping 325 yards and 6 touchdowns during last week’s 50-49 loss to Scottsdale Desert Mountain last week, re-aggravated his knee and saw limited action.
And speaking of character, there’s no shortage of that in the Mesa locker room, especially after a heart-breaking loss.
“It doesn’t have anything to do with effort,” said senior quarterback Chris Shelton, who rushed for 63 yards on the evening. “We’re a very tight unit and we have a lot of chemistry. Tonight, we ran the option well. We just didn’t execute when we needed to, especially towards the end of the game.”
By John Phelps