Turnovers hampered Westwood in its homecoming matchup against Mesa on Friday, as the Jackrabbits took down the Warriors, 24-7, behind a strong run game and a big-play defense.
The win snapped Mesa's two-game losing skid but extended Westwood losing streak to five games.
The first quarter was rough on both teams. It started with back-to-back fumbles and three punts. The next four drives were either punts or turnovers.
Mesa quarterback Lucan Moen went down early in the game after being hit in the back of the helmet, and didn't return, which could have been a big loss for Mesa given Moen's running ability at quarterback.
“He got hit pretty hard in the head and was seeing stars,” Mesa coach Kelley Moore said. “We needed to see what Rafael Bellorin had anyway, so it worked out for us.”
The Jackrabbits (2-4) used Bellorin at quarterback for the rest of the game, and Mesa broke the trend of turnovers with a 14-yard touchdown run by Russell Baptiste midway through the second for a 7-0 lead.
“We played as a team, really that was the difference,” Baptiste said. “Just being there in the presence of the game and not shooting ourselves in the foot like we have in the past.”
Mesa held that lead for the remainder of the game.
The Jackrabbits used Bellorin more like a running back as they relied heavily on the run. He finished the night 4-for-5 passing with 70 yards and one touchdown.
Mesa’s offense was spread out effectively. no player scored more than once. Bellorin put the Jackrabbits ahead 14-0 with a 37-yard touchdown pass to Eugene McIlhenny. A field goal and then a touchdown run from Marquette Johnson wrapped up the Mesa win.
Westwood (1-5) moved the ball effectively but three interceptions and three fumbles ruined almost all of their drives that started strong. Mike Egger connected with Ty Dale, however, for a 36-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter to give the Warriors their only score of the night.
“This was pretty huge, even in Thursday’s practice you could see that we were still really down from our gaff last week,” Moore said of their close loss to Dobson last week. “We just need to finish every game off like we did tonight.”
Mesa 24, Westwood 7
M- Baptiste 14 run (Pereles kick)
M – Mcllhenny 37 pass from Bellorin (Pereles kick)
M – Pereles 33 kick
WW – Dale 36 touchdown from Egger (Castelan kick)
M – Johnson 15 run (Pereles kick)
First Downs: 8
First Downs: 14