Mesa leaned on its defense and it responded Friday.
The Jackrabbitts opportunistic secondary intercepted four passes and had two fourth down stops deep in their own territory en route to a 31-20 victory over host Surprise Valley Vista.
“Our defense played lights out,” Mesa coach Kelley Moore said. “I think because of the defense we got enough momentum to get a couple of scores.”
The offense for Mesa (3-1) came from Turrell Pietz-Noble. The running back scored three times, including a 39-yard TD run to ice the victory with 2:30 remaining.
“The offensive line made some tremendous blocks to open up holes for me so I could get stuff done,” said Pietz-Noble, who was hampered by a nagging groin injury but still carried the ball 20 times for 230 yards.
Valley Vista (2-2) got off to another slow start and made several mistakes that killed drives.
In the first quarter the Monsoon had a 9-play drive that was stopped at the 2-yard-line on failed fourth down run and quarterback Damian Alarcon was intercepted twice in the first half that led to Pietz-Noble TD runs of 58 and 3 yards.
“I am disappointed,” Valley Vista coach Josh Sekoch said. “I thought we were a better football team, obviously we are not.”
Despite the slow start, Valley Vista rallied and even led after tremendous plays by Terry Juniel. The wideout turned two screen passes into TD catches of 35 and 78 yards to give the Monsoon a 21-20 lead after three quarters.
“That is what our offense is right now – throw it to Terry and hope he can do something,” Sekoch said.
But Mesa adjusted its coverage and even put Pietz-Noble on Juniel for the remainder of the game.
“People don’t know this but (Pietz-Noble) is one of our best corners,” Moore said.
The adjustment worked as Mesa’s Tanner Stewart intercepted a deep pass with 1:52 remaining to go along with takeaway he had earlier in the game.
Christian Carpenter and Jacob Ray also had interceptions for Mesa.
Juniel finished with 10 catches for 206 yards.
Mesa quarterback Rafael Bellorin had a 10-yard TD run in the third quarter.
Valley Vista trailed 14-8 at halftime after Jeff Harris took an innocent out pass 57 yards for a score.
Mesa 30, Valley Vista 21
Mesa 7 7 6 10 – 30
Valley Vista 2 6 13 0 – 21
First Downs: Mesa 19, Valley Vista 11
Rushing: Mesa 41-271, Valley Vista 27-32
Passing (Comp-Att-Yards-TD-Int): Mesa 4-12-44-0-0, Valley Vista 15-31-318-4-3
Fumbles-Lost: Mesa 2-1, Valley Vista 1-0
Penalties-Yards: Mesa 2-25, Valley Vista 8-65
VV – Safety
M – Pietz-Noble 58 run (Pereles kick)
M – Pietz-Noble 3 run (Pereles kick)
VV – Harris 57 pass from Alarcon (kick failed)
VV – Juniel 35 pass from Alarcon (Musa kick)
M – Bellorin 10 run (Pereles kick)
VV – Juniel 78 pass from Alarcon (Pass failed)
M – Pereles 46 FG
M – Pietz-Noble 39 run (Pereles kick)