The opening game of the season in any sport is often sloppy and filled with mistakes. That was the case on Friday in Mesquite’s 10-3 win over host-Gilbert in the Wildcats' debut as a Division II school under new coach Jim Jones.
The game was scoreless after one quarter and was a mixed bag of well-played defense and poor offensive execution throughout the game for both teams. Mesquite took a 7-0 lead with 7:18 remaining in the second quarter on a 17-yard touchdown run by Juan Giraldo. It held up.
“In the first half of this game we played more conservative on offense. In the second half we opened it up a little bit, but the defense won this game for us.” Jones said.
Just before halftime, Gilbert got a 40-yard field goal from Austin Carver. The field goal was nearly blocked as the Wildcats brought pressure but Carver was able to get enough lift to get the ball over the defenders outstretched arms and through the goal post.
Mesquite brought defensive pressure regularly which slowed the Tigers passing attack. In the fourth quarter, with the offense struggling and little time remaining, starting quarterback Tyler Stevenson was replaced by Dane Stankiewicz. On Stankiewicz’s first play from scrimmage he was able to complete a 25-yard pass to Alex Gerstner put the Tigers in good position to tie the game with about five minutes remaining and the ball inside the Mesquite 15 yard line. Once again the Wildcat pressure got to the Gilbert quarterback and on fourth down with eight yards to go Stankiewicz overthrew his intended receiver in the end zone and it was intercepted by Josh Davis. After a Mesquite punt, Gilbert had one final chance, but the Tigers turned it over on downs with under a minute remaining to secure the win for Mesquite.
“We are a young team and I told our guys not to let this game get them down. We were right there in this game and we had our chances.” Gilbert coach Tim Rutt said.
There is plenty of work to do for teams. Both coaches might look to make changes going into next week.
“It’s going to be a battle at quarterback next week. I am not sure who we are going to start yet.” Rutt said. "Both are good kids and we as a team have a lot of work to do.”
Mesquite 10, Gilbert 3
Mesquite 0 7 3 0 – 10
Gilbert 0 3 0 0 – 3
Mesquite: Giraldo 17 run (James kick)
Gilbert: Carver 40 FG
Mesquite: James 37 FG