Seemingly in control, having shut down the Mesa ground game and taking a 14-0 lead by halftime, Skyline looked to have its second win over a Mesa school this year.
That’s a big deal for the Coyotes, who had only one win over a Mesa school ever coming into the season.
But Skyline needed some last-minute heroics from its hobbling quarterback to pull this win off.
“It was open,” Coyotes quarterback Michael Amado said of the deciding play. “It was a wide gap, risked my body and just went in there hard.”
On Skyline’s second play in overtime, Amado read the coverage, pulled back a would-be handoff and ran 9 yards for a touchdown to lift Skyline (4-3) to a 27-24 win over Mesa on Friday.
“It’s big for us because it’s about belief,” said Skyline coach Angelo Paffumi. “In the 13 years they have been open, they have only beaten a Mesa school once. (This season) we beat Dobson and we beat Mesa. (For) everybody else in the state this game means nothing but it meant a lot to us and it meant a lot to the Mesa kids.”
That was after the Coyote defense held Mesa to just seven yards on the first two plays from scrimmage in the first overtime possession. Mesa quarterback Lucas Moen tried a swing pass on third down that fell incomplete. Noe Pereles easily kicked the 20-yard field goal to momentarily put the Jackrabbits ahead on homecoming.
“That’s a signature win when you can beat Mesa,” Jackrabbits coach Kelley Moore said. “That’s a good feather in his cap and they earned it and they deserved it.”
But Mesa (2-5) made a game with a couple of big plays. Eugene McIlhenny streaked down the sideline on a 48-yard score to put Mesa on the board in the third quarter and then JyJawon Torrence picked up a Dakota Howard fumble at the Skyline 36 and ran it back 23 yards.
A personal foul penalty put the ball on the Coyote 7 and Russell Baptiste scored on the next play to tie it at 14 with 2:57 left in the third.
Amado said he hurt his left knee on a play after going down on it awkward on the Coyotes second play from scrimmage in the third quarter. Justin Brown took over for the rest of that series.
“He got hurt right after halftime and that changed the way we were doing things,” Paffumi said. “So all the momentum we had in the first half we couldn’t run right out of the game (in the third quarter). They threw us off. Once we slowed down, they jumped on it.”
With Amado less than mobile, Francisco Avitia, the Coyotes’ workhorse, picked up the slack and put Skyline back ahead with a 25-yard touchdown, outrunning the Mesa corners to get into the end zone midway through the fourth. Avitia had 128 yards rushing for Skyline.
However, Mesa put together a seven-play drive, sparked by Moen’s 36-yard run on fourth-and-1 at the Skyline 48 and McIlhenny tied it with a 3-yard dive with 3:12 left.
The Jackrabbits had an opportunity in regulation after Joseph Carassco picked off an ill-advised halfback pass, giving Mesa the ball at its 33 with 1:58 left. But Mesa failed to convert a fourth-and-2 at the Skyline 43.
Amado threw three straight incomplete passes to end the fourth quarter.
Skyline 6 8 0 7 6 – 27
Mesa 0 0 14 7 3 – 24
First Downs: Skyline 14, Mesa 6
Rushes-yards: Skyline 41-211, Mesa 33-210
Passing yards: Skyline 38, Mesa 24
Passes: Skyline 5-14-2, Mesa 3-13-0
Fumbles-lost: Skyline 1-1, Mesa 2-0
Penalties-yards: Skyline 10-49, Mesa 11-106
S-Meister 3 pass from Amado (run failed)
S-Amado 9 run (Turpin pass from Amado)
M-McIlhenny 48 run (Pereles kick)
M-Baptiste 7 run (Pereles kick)
S-Avitia 25 run (Willis kick)
M-McIlhenny 3 run (Pereles kick)
M-FG Pereles 20
S-Amado 9 run