Friday’s game against Gilbert ended in similar fashion to many of Mesa High’s previous 999 games did: a Jackrabbits victory.
Quarterback Lucas Moen led the Jackrabbits past the Tigers, 28-14, for Mesa’s first victory of the year and 640th in their illustrious 1,000 game history.
"I’m speechless,” Moen said of the historic night. “Everyone came out here to watch us play. We got to meet alumni. I never thought I would be a part of something like this. I’m blessed.”
Moen led the Jackrabbits (1-2) with 124 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 19 carries and also completed 6 of 15 passes for 194 yards and a touchdown.
“Lucas did a good job,” Mesa coach Kelley Moore said. “He ran our team well tonight. We’ve been looking for him to step up. I’m proud of the kid. He did a good job.”
Gilbert struck first, however, when the Tigers (0-3) scored on an 84-yard quarterback option keeper by QB Connor Helvig with 3:19 left in the first quarter.
Helvig led the Tigers with 109 yards rushing and a touchdown on six carries, but completed only 5 of 20 passes for 88 yards and one interception.
After a slow first quarter on offense for the Jackrabbits that featured two punts and a lost fumble, Mesa took control of the game with a dominant second quarter.
The Jackrabbits got on the board with 8:53 left in the second quarter on a 5-yard touchdown run from Joseph Carassco to pull within 7-6 after kicker Noe Pereles’s extra point was blocked.
After Gilbert went three-and-out on its ensuing drive, Mesa scored again with 3:20 left in the second quarter on a 10-yard Moen run. The score put the Jackrabbits ahead 12-7 after a failed two-point conversion attempt.
The Tigers again went three and out on their ensuing drive and a 17-yard punt set up Mesa with great field position at Gilbert’s 47-yard line. A crucial fourth down defensive holding penalty went against the Tigers and gave the Jackrabbits new life.
Mesa capitalized on the opportunity and scored on a 34-yard pass from Moen to Carrasco with just 18 seconds left. Pereles missed the extra point to bring the score to 18-7.
A penalty negated a Mesa touchdown on its first play in the second half, and they instead settled for a 49 yard Pereles field goal to put them up 21-7.
The Jackrabbits added a touchdown on a 9-yard run by Moen with 3:02 left in the game.
Tigers running back Dylon Gillette followed with a 5-yard touchdown run of his own to pull Gilbert within 28-14 with 1:38 left to play.
The Tigers failed to recover the onside kick, however, and Mesa was able to run out the clock for the victory.
Gilbert 7 0 0 7 - 14
Mesa 0 18 3 7 - 28
First Downs: Gilbert- 7 Mesa- 16
Rushing: Gilbert- 22- 149 Mesa 46- 203
Comp-Att-Int: Gilbert- 5-20-1 Mesa- 6-15-0
Passing yards: Gilbert-88 Mesa- 194
Fumbles-Lost: Gilbert 5-3 Mesa 2-1
Penalties-Yards: Gilbert 5-50 Mesa 13-125
G- Helvig 84 run (Carver kick)
M-Carassco 5 run (kick blocked)
M- Moen 10 run (Baptiste run failed)
M- Carassco 34 pass from Moen (kick failed)
M- Pereles 49 FG
M- Moen 9 run (Pereles kick)
G- Gillette 5 run (Carver kick)