Gilbert High’s Brad Mason booted a 40-yard field goal with less than five seconds remaining in the game to give the Tigers a 15-14 victory over host Gilbert Mesquite in a 5A-I Fiesta Region game Friday night.
With about 30 seconds left in the game, Mesquite (3-4, 0-1) set up for a punt deep in its own territory. The botched snap rolled back toward punter Trevor Kohl and was recovered by Gilbert’s Bret Crowe at the Wildcats’ 18-yard line. The Tigers (5-3, 1-1) took a couple of shots at the end zone without success and settled for the long field-goal attempt. Mason had missed an extra point earlier in the game, but Gilbert coach Jesse Parker wasn’t worried.
“He’s a heck of a kid. He’s a tough-minded kid.” the legendary coach said. “He told me, 'Hey coach, I’ll make it.’”
Though he was happy about the win, Parker said he knew his team didn’t necessarily play its best game. “We pulled it out,” said Parker. “We made enough mistakes.”
Despite playing without Luckas Scott, the region’s leading rusher, Mesquite still managed to run the ball with some success. Most of that success came from Max Webb. He picked up 86 yards on 18 carries. The Wildcats were able to move the ball but had trouble putting it in the end zone. Their only score in the first half came on a blocked punt. Gilbert was punting from its own end zone when Tuuta Pulotu broke through and blocked the kick. Kohl came away with the ball for a touchdown.
With the offense struggling, Mesquite replaced quarterback Beau Delis with junior Matthew Westergard. He made an immediate impact. On his first possession behind center, he led the Wildcats to their first and only offensive touchdown. He completed 4 of 4 passes and used his speed to also run for 27 yards on three carries on the drive.
Mesquite seemed to have the game in hand late in the fourth quarter. It forced Gilbert to punt with about five minutes to go in the game. The Wildcats were able to pick up a couple of first downs and keep the clock moving. With less than a minute to go and without any timeouts the Tigers desperately needed to make a stop. On third down, Mesquite was stopped after a short gain, setting up the botched punt.
The Tigers seemed to have little chance to pull this one out, but the team knew it wasn’t out of it yet.
“It’s like that old Winston Churchill saying,” Parker said, “'never, never, never, never give up.’”
They didn’t and they gave their coach another victory.