Defense forces a turnover. Mason Thorman hits Drake Pierre for a touchdown pass. Red Mountain followed that formula multiple times in a dominant second quarter to defeat Mesa High 35-14 on Friday.
The Mountain Lions (4-0) stayed unbeaten on the season thanks to their strong defense and the arm of Thorman. Thorman threw for four touchdowns and 211 yards on 16-of-23 passing. The defense forced two Jackrabbits (1-3) turnovers on the night and scored 14 points off those turnovers.
“Our defense played hard,” coach Ron Wisneiwski said. “They created some turnovers. We tried to move around as much as possible to create opportunities like that. We’re fortunate we were able to make those plays and get the ball back.”
Red Mountain opened the scoring on its first drive of the game when Thorman hit his favorite target Pierre from 13 yards out to make the score 6-0. After Mesa missed a 40-yard field goal attempt, the Mountain Lions scored again as Thorman found Pierre again from 3 yards out to make it 14-0.
Mesa fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Red Mountain recovered to take possession on the Jackrabbits 22-yard line. Three consecutive holding penalties backed up the Mountain Lions, but all that did was give Thorman more room to find Pierre yet again. The duo connected this time for a 49-yard touchdown pass and put Red Mountain ahead 21-0. Pierre finished with 5 catches for 100 yards and three touchdowns in the game.
“I just know where he’s going to be,” Thorman said of Pierre. “I know the plays well enough that I know he’s going to be at the five yard line right now, and I can throw it early and he’ll turn around and have the ball in his hands.”
The Mountain Lions attempted an onside kick on the ensuing kickoff and it was successful. Red Mountain took over on the 50-yard line, but their drive stalled in Jackrabbit territory and they turned the ball over on downs. Mesa’s quarterback Lucas Moen promptly gave them the ball back, however, as he fumbled a snap and turned the ball over.
Thorman took advantage, hitting Aeron Carr from 23 yards out for his fourth touchdown pass of the half and put the Mountain Lions ahead 28-0.
Mesa did get on the board before the end of the half, as Moen scored on a 7-yard run with under a minute left to pull within 28-7. It was the first of two touchdown runs for Moen on the night. The Jackrabbits could get no closer, however. Coach Kelley Moore did think his team will learn from the defeat though.
“Don’t take anything away from Red Mountain, but when we self-destruct like that it’s all on us,” Moore said. “It’s all execution and it’s been that way since we’ve been here. We just keep telling our kids we’re not going to be able to play with the big boys until we get it fixed. I think tonight I saw some lights go on in their eyeballs and I think we can get it done.”
Score by quarters
Red Mountain 7 21 0 7 - 35
Mesa 0 7 0 7 - 14
First Downs- Red Mountain- 23 Mesa- 10
Rushing- Red Mountain- 42-211 Mesa- 32-159
Comp-Att-Int Red Mountain-16-23-1 Mesa- 7-10-0
Passing yards- Red Mountain-211 Mesa- 13
Fumbles-Lost Red Mountain 0-0 Mesa 2-2
Penalties-Yards Red Mountain 10-85 Mesa 10-93
RM- Pierre 13 pass from Thorman (kick failed)
RM- Pierre 3 pass from Thorman (conversion successful)
RM- Pierre 49 pass from Thorman (Duran kick)
RM- Carr 23 pass from Thorman (Duran kick)
M- Moen 7 run (Pereles kick)
RM- Limbs 1 run (Duran kick)
M- Moen 49 run (Pereles kick)