It is not like the Marcos de Niza football team did not have success on the road since it won its first three games of the season.
But the Padres felt good about being home for the first time, and they celebrated with a 21-7 victory over Perry on Thursday night in a Division ll game. The Padres are rolling at 4-0 overall. The Pumas fell to 2-2 overall.
It sets up a huge game next week as the Padres host Tucson Ironwood Ridge next Friday, both teams are among Division II's elite.
"Finally a home game, now we have a big one next week," Marcos de Niza coach Roy Lopez said.
The Padres got a big lift from junior quarterback Josh Eckley, who became a weapon with his aerial game and on the ground running. Eckley was a big thorn in the side of Perry as he converted some big third- and fourth-down runs to keep drives alive.
"Andrew Molina did a good job as the starting quarterback and Josh comes in and gives us another dimension," Lopez said. "They (Perry) were bringing eight and nine guys and when they miss the tackle we made them pay."
Perry took the opening kickoff and had a nice drive which started on a knee down at the 3-yard line. However, the Pumas came up empty after a 29-yard field goal attempt was wide right.
The Padres scored first on the first play of the second quarter. It was set up when Ozo Cabrera recovered a Perry fumbled punt return at the Pumas' 43-yard line.
In one-on-one coverage, Eckley hit Kamron Johnson in stride on a 29-yard strike. With 5:32 left in the second quarter Eckley hooked up with Jacquese Moore for an 18-yard touchdown pass. The Padres put together an impressive drive late in the first half once they were pinned back to the 1-yard line after a Perry punt.
Eckley ran for some breathing room and they drove 97 yards only to come up two yards shy of the end zone as the clock ran out and Marcos led 14-0 at intermission.
"We did miss a lot of tackles on the quarterback, he was scrambling and converting on third-and-7 and fourth-and-longs," Perry coach Preston Jones said.
Eckley went to work running and throwing on a drive which was capped off on a Antonio Warner five yard run. Jaron Jones drilled all three PAT kicks for the Padres as they went ahead 21-0 in the third quarter. The Pumas answered right back on the next drive as Reggie Blader dove in from a yard out cutting to give Perry its only score on the night on a 65-yard, 12-play drive.
Perry put up another threat in the final quarter. The Pumas marched to the Padres' 20-yard line before Priest Willis had a big sack and then Dominique Fenstermacher halted the drive by picking off a pass at the 18-yard line. Eckley and Molina combined on 13-of-25 passes for 207 yards, the two touchdowns and no interceptions. Most of that came from Eckley. Johnson, Moore and Paul Elvira all had big nights as receivers and Mauriece Lee had a key 20-yard gain on a screen pass.
"I took what they gave me, I am blessed with some athletic ability," Eckley said. "We have been working hard all summer and it's about moments like this, we can't pull back now."
The Pumas were plucky defensively most of the night against the high-powered Padres, but Perry will try and stop its two-game skid next week at Gila Ridge.
"We could not sustain drives, but our kids fought hard and gave it everything they had," Jones said.
Marcos de Niza 21, Perry 7
Perry 0 0 7 0 -- 7
Marcos de Niza 0 14 7 0 -- 21
M - Johnson 29 pass from Eckley (Jones kick)
M - Moore 18 pass from Eckley (Jones kick)
M - Warner 5 run (Jones kick)
P - Blader 1 run (Aguirre kick)
First downs 16 15
Rushes-Yards 46-140 38-111
Passing Yards 78 207
Comp-Att-Int 5-15-1 13-25-0
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 2-0
Penalties-Yards 1-5 6-40