The season opener had not been kind to the Mesa football team the past two seasons, as it was outscored 86-12 by Desert Vista. That’s why when the Jackrabbits pulled out a 12-0 victory over Dobson on Friday night, Moore breathed a sigh of relief.
“It was like a big monkey jumping off their back,” said Moore, whose team ended 2012 on a four-game losing streak. “Hopefully they aren’t satisfied with it and we keep playing hard.”
Mesa (1-0) used a stout defense and a big-play running game to control the Mustangs all game. The Jackrabbit defense gave up just 35 yards on the ground and Dobson went three-and-out three times in the second half.
“Obviously when you pitch a shutout you are happy about that,” Moore said.
Dobson’s best drive of the game was aided by two 15-yard penalties by the Mesa defense, but the Mustangs ended up turning the ball over on downs.
The Jackrabbits were led on offense by running back Turrell Pietz-Noble. The junior rushed for 160 yards on 19 carries and caught two passes for 59 yards in his first varsity contest.
“Hopefully he is the the guy for us,” Moore said. “But he can’t do anything without the boys up front. I thought the guys up front did an excellent job.”
Pietz-Noble popped four rushes over 15 yards and accounted for over 200 yards of total offense for Mesa.
“The linemen did well, they made the holes for me, I could not have done it without them,” said Pietz-Noble. “We are excited about the win.”
It was a sloppy opening quarter from both teams as rain poured down onto the field most of the night. Mesa lost a fumble on the third play of the game and Dobson gave it right back on the ensuing drive with a Christian Davis fumble inside the red zone.
The Jackrabbits got on the board midway through the second quarter on a Noe Pereles 25-yard field goal, and Mesa took that 3-0 lead into half time.
After the Mesa defense forced a Dobson three-and-out, the Jackrabbits marched 55 yards for a touchdown on their opening drive of the second half. The drive was capped off by a one-yard quarterback sneak from Chris Shelton. Mesa added another field goal from Pereles in the fourth to stretch their lead to 12-0.
Dobson (0-1) was able to move the ball through the air on their final drive of the game, but it was too little too late for the Mustangs and head coach George De La Torre.
“I am really proud of our defense, we gave up some big plays, but our defense came out here to play,” De La Torre said. “A lot of our starters are juniors from last year’s JV team, we are in the stage where we are trying to help kids win some confidence.”
The Mustangs did lose two running backs on back-to-back plays as Jones and senior Zaneil Chatman left the game with leg injuries during the second half. According to De La Torre, Jones was sent for X-rays.