It was a classic high school football game Friday night between two teams looking to make it into the Division l playoffs. When the dust cleared Desert Mountain won a 50-49 thriller over Skyline in a game loaded with playoff implications.
Desert Mountain (4-4) was again led by two players who signed to play Division l college football pulled out the win. Quarterback Kyle Allen (Texas A&M) and 6-foot-6 receiver Mark Andrews (Oklahoma) connected on a five-yard touchdown pass with 32 seconds left in the game to pull within a point at 49-48. Instead of a PAT kick and possibly forcing overtime, the Wolves went for broke and the win with a two-point conversion.
Skyline's defenders knew they had to stop Andrews, but couldn't. Allen found Andrews in the front corner of the end zone to give the Wolves' the one point win. But not before Skyline had a minute left to take one more shot.
The Coyotes had no timeouts but Francisco Avitia - who ran wild all night - broke off a 30-yard run, followed by quarterback Michael Amado's 9-yard completion. Salvador Martinez-Sotelo came on to try a 50-yard field goal for the win. The snap was mishandled and the ball was thrown out of bounds, which resulted in a five-yard penalty.
Sotelo then came up short on a 55-yard try with seven seconds left, and the Wolves escaped with the win.
"The kid has the leg, he kicks from 62 yards, but it's a tough thing with the game on the line and the snap and the hold and it all has to come together," Skyline coach Angelo Paffumi said. "We had 612 yards of total offense and still lost, (Desert Mountain) could not stop our running game, we ran hard and Avitia was amazing."
Playing without one of the Coyotes' top receivers in Cory Anderson because of injuries (whom Paffumi believes will play next week), Avitia kept coming up big every time Skyline needed a big play. He finished with six of Skyline's seven touchdowns and rushed for 325 yards on 21 carries. He also had a 73-yard TD erased on a holding penalty.
Allen and Andrews put on a show for the Wolves. Allen threw for 345 yards (20 completions in 33 attempts), threw five touchdown passes, and ran for 85 yards and another touchdown. Andrews had eleven receptions for a staggering 200 yards and the game-winning conversion pass. Andrews caught touchdown passes of 5, 10, 35 and 45 yards.
"Our offense started slow and stalled now-and-then but when we got the ball back with 2:20 left, I was pretty confident," said Allen, who figured he'd do his regular holding duties on the PAT following the last touchdown. "I was ready to hold and then found we were going for the two point conversion and the win. We ran the fade route to Mark and he did the job as always."
"Some kids are not worth all the hype they get, he (Andrews) is. He has an NFL body, I will give him that. We should have had more defenders on him," Paffumi said.
Skyline started the season 5-0, but is in a three-game losing skid despite Friday's battle to the very end. The Coyotes took a 14-0 lead as Avitia returned the opening kickoff 48 yards to midfield, then scored two plays later on a 57-yard run. Skyline then marched 79 yards in 12 plays capped off by an Avitia 21-yard run.
"As my mother would say we are in pretty good shape for the shape were in," Desert Mountain coach Tony Tabor said. "We went in 16th in the power rankings and beat a team that came in 5-2. I think I aged 25 years in this game, but we found a way to win the game. Our defense needs to play better we could not stop (Skyline's) counter. We came in decimated with injuries and lost defensive back Jordan Craig on the first play of the game."
The Wolves then got rolling on a 35-yard Allen-to-Andrews pass and an Allen 9-yard run to tie the game at 14-14. Truman Tucker - who had 156 yards rushing on just nine carries - had a 75-yard run to set up an Avitia's 1-yard plunge for a 21-14 lead at halftime.
The teams were deadlocked at 21-21 going into the wild fourth quarter (43 points scored combined). Both teams kept trading touchdowns. Avitia accounted for all of the Coyotes' fourth quarter scores on runs of 27, 83 and 62 yards. Allen hit Raul Martinez for a 25-yard touchdown pass with 3:16 left to give the Wolves a 42-41 lead on Austin Taylor's PAT kick.
Avitia again was clutch with a 62-yard scamper. A Tucker-to-Amado conversion pass put Skyline ahead 49-42 with 2:40 left. But it was to much time left on the clock for Allen and Andrews as they put together the game-winning drive.
"I'm proud of our kids, we are in the playoff run and have a tough game with a team playing well in Mesa next week," Paffumi said.
Desert Mountain 50, Skyline 49
First Downs: DM 20, S 15
Rushing: DM 24-185, S 44-530
Passing (comp-att-yards-TD-INT): DM 20-33-345-5-1, S 7-12-82-0-0
Fumbles-Lost: DM 0-0, S 5-1
Penalties-Yards: DM 7-50, S 6-53
Desert Mtn. 7 14 7 22 - 50
Skyline 14 14 0 21 - 49
S: Avitia 57 run (Sotelo kick)
S: Avitia 21 run (Sotelo kick)
DM: Andrews 35 pass from Allen (Taylor kick)
DM: Allen 9 run (Taylor kick)
S: Avitia 1 run (pass failed)
DM: Andrews 10 pass from Allen (Taylor kick)
S: Ruppert 1 run (Post pass from Avitia)
DM: Hill 19 punt return (Taylor kick)
S: Avitia 27 run (Sotelo kick)
DM: Andrews 45 yard pass from Allen (Taylor kick)
S: Avitia 83 run (pass failed)
DM: Martinez 25 pass from Allen (Taylor kick)
S: Avitia 62 run (Amado pass from Tucker)
DM: Andrews 5 pass from Allen (Andrews pass from Allen)