Despite another strong night by quarterback Josh Eckley, Marcos de Niza was unable to keep up with Mesquite as the Wildcats continued their turnaround season with a 47-28 win on Friday.
The game opened, surprisingly, with two defensive stops in a row. Mesquite (8-1) attempted a field goal but was unsuccessful, and the Padres were forced to punt on their first drive from midfield.
The action everyone expected from the two offensive powerhouses took over from there.
Mesquite got on the board first with a late-first quarter drive capped off by a 5-yard touchdown run from running back Paul Perry. The Padres answered back right away, as Eckley connected with running back Alexander Kingston for a 44-yard touchdown pass. The first quarter was capped off by an 80-yard kickoff return on the next play by Wildcats' receiver Juan Giraldo, putting Mesquite up 14-7.
The Wildcats were able to widen their lead to 28-14 going into the half. Mesquite had two touchdown passes from quarterback Payton Haslam in the second quarter, while the Padres were able to keep the game within reach with Eckley’s second touchdown pass on the night.
The second half belonged to the Wildcats, who were able to break open their lead thanks to Perry’s ground game. Perry had 24 carries for 137 yards and three touchdowns, two of which came in the second half.
Marcos de Niza (6-3) was able to keep the game within reach until midway through the fourth, largely thanks to the Padres' passing game. The Padres senior quarterback was 23-34 passing for 373 yards passing with two touchdowns on the night. When he wasn’t passing, Eckley was scrambling to keep plays alive. He carried the ball nine times for 86 yards and had two rushing touchdowns.
“The key to the win was our guys out front in the ground game, and trying to contain (Eckley),” said Mesquite coach Jim Jones. “We didn’t do it as much as we’d like to; he’s going to get his running game going, he’s going to get his passing yards, and you just have to try to keep the ball out of his hands.”
When asked after the game how to control Eckley, Jones simply replied, “When you find out, will you tell me?”
In the end, the Padres weren’t able to overcome two interceptions from Eckley and 75 penalty yards. Several failed onside kicks would have given the Padres a chance to bring the game into a more manageable situation, but the Mesquite special teams unit was able to control the ball.
The Wildcats were able to run the ball steadily late in the fourth to run down the clock, and the Padres stalled late in the game.
“They’re well coached. They’re very disciplined, and they didn’t make many mistakes,” said Padres coach Roy Lopez. “We’re a little young, and it shows in our blocking and tackling. We’ll be alright; we’ll stay together and try to patch it up. We just can’t make that many mistakes against a team like that.”
First Downs: MSW 12, MDN 18
Rushing: MSW 29-205, MDN 25-175
Passing (Comp-Att-Yards-INT-TD): M (9-16-175-0-3), MDN (23-34-373-2-2)
Fumbles-lost: M 2-1, MDN 0-0
Penalties-yards: M 5-35, MDN 9-75
Mesquite 14 14 6 13 -- 47
Marcos 7 7 7 7 -- 28
MSW: Perry 5 run (James kick)
MDN: Kingston 16 pass from Eckley (Ketterer kick)
MSW: Giraldo 80 return (James kick)
MDN: Harry 22 pass from Eckley (Ketterer kick)
MSW: Tondreau 72 pass from Haslam (James kick)
MSW: Robinson 14 pass from Haslam (James kick)
MSW: Perry 3 run (kick failed)
MDN: Eckley 5 run (Ketterer kick)
MSW: Tondreau 1 pass from Haslam (2-pt failed)
MDN: Eckley 17 run (Ketterer kick)
MSW: Perry 42 run (James kick)