Mesquite knocked off Cactus 49-35 in non-divisional football action Friday night in Glendale. The game became wilder as time ticked by.
Cactus quarterback Talal Yousoufzai hit Jaylon James out of the backfield for a 52-yard touchdown pass and a 28-28 tie with 10:11 left in the game.
Mesquite reclaimed the lead by taking the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown by Josh Davis. He cut his way through the defense and found the end zone from 88 yards away.
“It changed the momentum and flipped it,” Mesquite running back Paul Perry said. “They were driving the field and scored back-to-back but the return changed the game.”
Cactus kept plugging away and James found the end zone from two yards out to make it 42-35 with 6:41 left but they couldn’t get any closer.
“We can’t brag about our defense after that one,” Mesquite head coach Jim Jones said. His team was coming off of consecutive shutouts over Corona del Sol and Westwood.
Mesquite quarterback Payton Haslam found the end zone in the final minute from two yards out to close the scoring.
Haslam finished the game with 214 yards through the air and two touchdowns with an interception. He added six carries for 24 yards as well.
Perry had another outstanding night for Mesquite. He finished with 195 yards and two touchdowns on 28 carries.
“I think all around we were solid on offense,” Perry said. "Our offensive line is great.”
The Wildcats (6-1) opened the scoring with a two-yard touchdown rush from Haslam. Haslam’s score was set up by a 28-yard run from Perry and a facemask penalty on Cactus.
The Cobras (2-5) struck back with a 25-yard touchdown pass from Yousufzai to Xavier Villareal to tie the game with 3:01 left in the opening quarter. Cactus was pinned at its own 1-yard line but Yousufzai broke free on a 52-yard run to get the Cobras to midfield.
He completed four passes in a row and the last one found Villareal down the seam for the score.
Mesquite got back in the lead with a seam-route touchdown of its own. Haslam found Nolan Tondreau behind the defense. Tondreau burned past the defensive back and was gone for a 71-yard touchdown catch and a 14-7 Mesquite lead.
The Wildcats went up by two touchdowns when Perry plowed his way in from two yards out with 1:14 left in the half.
Each team had a field goal blocked in the first half. Cactus had an opportunity for a big play when Austin Marshall ran a punt back 72 yards to the Mesquite 18-yard line. Unfortunately, the Cobras’ offense stalled out and they failed to pick up a 4th-and-8 conversion on the Wildcats’ 15-yard line.
The second half was a wild affair.
Cactus took the first possession of the second half and cashed in for a touchdown. It was a 50-yard pass to Austin Marshall on 4th-and-4 from midfield that brought the Cobras to within a touchdown.
Marshall struck again three minutes later when he tied the game with a 75-yard punt return for a touchdown.
Perry gave Mesquite back the lead at 28-21 with his second two-yard touchdown run of the night with 24 seconds left in the third quarter.
Mesquite 49, Cactus 35
First Downs: M-23, C-23
Rushing: M 45-275, C-44-178
Passing: M 8-15-214-2TD-1INT; C 17-29-328-3TD- 0INT
Penalties: M 12-120; C: 5-31
Fumbles: M 0-0, C 3-2