Welcome back, Joshua Eckley.
After suffering back-to-back blowout losses to Tucson Salpointe Catholic and Campo Verde, the former with Eckley hampered by an ankle injury and the latter without him completely, Eckley back at 100 percent is just what Marcos de Niza needed.
Eckley looked like the quarterback from the first three weeks of the en route to leading the Padres to a 41-38 comeback win over visiting Poston Butte in a Division II, Section VI football game Friday.
“It feels really good to be back out here,” Eckley said. “I’ve been preparing three weeks to come back out and I made a good appearance.”
Eckley completed 25 of 40 passes for 263 yards and five touchdowns. He also rushed for 82 yards and one touchdown.
His biggest throw came with 48 seconds left and the Padres down 38-34. Eckley found Luke Nguyen for a six-yard touchdown to put the Padres (4-2, 1-1) on top for good.
“I went through my progression and I knew the flats were open so I just took what they gave me,” Eckley said. “I knew (Nguyen) wouldn’t let me down.”
Eckley came out strong in the first quarter, leading the Padres to an early 7-0 lead, but both the offense and defense sputtered in the second quarter and early in the third. Poston Butte scored 24 unanswered points before Eckley stopped the bleeding with a touchdown pass to Nick Sweet.
“It’s just us getting lackadaisical,” Eckley said. “We can’t underestimate a team. We just got to stay focused.”
Poston Butte ran its way to a 24-7 lead thanks to Brandon Hatfield, who rushed for 225 yards and 4 touchdowns. Two of his touchdown runs went for 90 and 60 yards.
The Broncos (3-3, 0-1) couldn’t stop Eckley in the fourth quarter, though, when he threw for three touchdowns and rushed for another.
“He’s a threat,” Marcos coach Roy Lopez said. “He gives us another dimension and you have to account for him.”
Having Eckley back provided some much needed confidence for a young Padre team and prevented Marcos from having to mentally deal with an extended losing streak.
“That team we had those first four weeks was outstanding,” Lopez said. “We had some swagger. So we’re slowly getting it back. We’re young, but we’re growing up.”
Poston Butte wore Florence’s road uniforms for the game to honor Steve McKane, who passed away Tuesday morning after suffering a heart attack.
“That’s huge that they honored them like that,” Lopez said. “That’s all class.”
Marcos de Niza 41, Poston Butte 38
First Downs: MDN 19, PB 10
Rushing: MDN 27-142, PB 42-267
Passing (comp.-att.-TD-INT): MDN 26-42-273-5-1, PB 6-12-114-2-1
Fumbles-lost: MDN 0-0, PB 1-0
Penalties-yards: MDN 5-35, PB 6-50
Poston Butte 0 18 6 14 -- 38
Marcos de Niza 7 0 7 27 -- 41
MDN: Blankenship 6 pass from Eckley (Ketterer kick)
PB: Hatfield 6 run (kick failed)
PB: Hatfield 6 run (pass failed)
PB: Hatfield 90 run (pass failed)
PB: Hatfield 60 run (pass failed)
MDN: Sweet 6 pass from Eckley (Ketterer kick)
PB: Lineberry 27 pass from Corriveau (40 kick)
MDN: Lagunas 14 pass from Eckley (Ketterer kick)
MDN: Eckley 9 run (kick failed)
MDN: Trujillo 19 pass from Eckley (Ketterer kick)
PB: Boys 52 pass from Corriveau (40 kick)
MDN: Nguyen 6 pass from Eckley (Ketterer kick)