Tempe Prep Academy couldn’t find the magic again this week. After knocking off unbeaten Elfrida Valley Union in the quarterfinals, the Knights fell to 1A North champ Heber Mogollon, 42-8, in the semifinals on Saturday at Apache Junction.
Tempe Prep (9-2) put itself in the hole right off the bat when it mishandled a squib kick on the opening kickoff and the Mustangs took possession on the Knights’ 31-yard line.
It couldn’t take advantage initially, but Mogollon (9-1) kept the ball on the Tempe Prep side of the field the entire first quarter and finally scored on a 2-yard run by Nolan Porter with 2:42 remaining.
The Mustangs added scores on their next two possessions, one coming after a fumble and another after Tempe Prep sophomore quarterback Rocky Brittain threw his second interception of the first half.
Mogollon led 22-0 at intermission after Jeremy Muzzy tackled Brittain in the end zone for a safety with 16 seconds left in the second quarter.
“We got outplayed,” Knights coach Tommy Brittain said. “They were faster and had a more versatile offense.
“We’re going to keep working. We have a big challenge going to 2A next year.”
Mogollon’s sophomore quarterback, J.T. Maner, directed the Mustangs to two more touchdowns in the third quarter as they built a 36-0 lead. He ran for two touchdowns and passed for two more.
The Knights finally got on the scoreboard early in the fourth quarter. Brittain connected with Matthew Mayor and he tight-roped his way down the sideline for 34 yards to the Mogollon 15-yard line. Junior Tom McDonald took a handoff and covered the distance on the next play.
Mayor said his team wasn’t ready to quit.
“You’ve just got to give it 100 percent,” the senior said. “I’m not a very good blocker so I’m in there to catch passes.”
The Knights had a shot at another score when Brittain intercepted Maner and returned it 31 yards. But Blake Owens picked off Brittain and Mogollon answered with the final score.
Mogollon will face Pima, a 52-20 winner over Joseph City, in the 1A title game Saturday at 7 p.m. at Apache Junction.