Maybe it really doesn’t matter if Basha and Perry are in two different divisions.
Last year, Division II Perry upset Division I Basha on its way to the state quarterfinals.
For three quarters on Friday night, the Pumas looked like they had a chance to repeat that feat. But this time was different.
“We finally beat them, we got redemption from last year and last week,” said Matt Bailey, whose interception return for a touchdown with 7:49 remaining was key.
The Bailey pick six, following a big 49-yard run by Rajhan Meriwether that broke a 14-14 tie, gave Basha some separation and the Bears (6-2) beat Perry 34-14 on Friday. Basha had four interceptions in the final 12 minutes to secure the victory – after leading 14-7 at the half and promptly giving that up less than five minutes later.
No consolation for Perry coach Preston Jones, whose team came into the game ranked eighth in power points and two teams with losing records left on the schedule.
“We said we couldn’t give up the big play and we gave up a big play a couple of times and that killed us,” Jones said. “We’re not good enough to turn the ball over and play a good football team. It may feel better later but this was a big game for us and it was a game we felt like we should have played a lot better.”
For No. 10 Basha, which wants to stay in the discussion of possible dark horse title candidates, the win couldn’t come at a better time after a 48-28 loss at the hands of Desert Ridge and a big game next week – at Hamilton.
“We wanted some momentum going into the next two weeks and the playoffs,” quarterback Zach Werlinger said. “We were able to do that tonight.”
After Perry (5-3) drove down the field and scored on Taelon Parson’s 3-yard run on the opening possession of the second half, the game was tied at 14.
The teams traded possessions and Basha got it on its 24 late in the third. A quick Werlinger pass to Nate Phillips – who was marked all night by Perry – got it near midfield. Basha opened the final quarter with a second-and-2 at the Puma 49. Meriwether broke through the line and outran the Puma defense for the tie-breaking touchdown.
The Bears turned up the defense and shortly thereafter Matt Bailey picked off an Austin Nightingale pass at the 45 and raced back to put Basha up by 13.
“I was getting beat on the hitch all night and my coach kept telling me to come up on it and break on it and I believed in that and took it the house,” Bailey said.
Dalton Krum followed with another pick, this time off Parson and Basha could coast. Justin Solomon added two more interceptions in the final five minutes.
Perry had moved the ball much of the night with Parson and Nightingale switching off at quarterback and Kenny Lewis rushing for 105 yards. Parson hit Mitch Harris on a first half TD pass to tie the game at 7 but Basha quickly regained the lead when Werlinger spread his offense with five wideouts on a third-and-7 and ran a draw, going 47 yards up the middle for the go-ahead score.
Perry drove to the Basha 16 in the closing seconds of the first half but missed a 33-yard field goal on the final play before the break.
Perry 0 7 7 0 -14
Basha 0 14 0 20 -- 34
B-Meriwether 1 run (Carrillo kick)
P-Harris 20 pass from Parson (Aguirre kick)
B-Werlinger 47 run (Carrillo kick)
P-Parson 3 run (Aguirre kick)
B-Meriwether 49 run (Carrillo kick)
B-Bailey 45 interception return (kick failed)
B-Phillips 12 pass from Werlinger (Day kick)
First Downs: Perry 12, Basha 13
Rushes-yards: Perry 47-201, Basha 36-220
Passes: Perry 8-22-4, Basha 6-11-1
Passing yards: Perry 52, Basha 75
Fumbles-lost: Perry 1-0, Basha 2-0
Penalties-yards: Perry 3-30, Basha 3-35