Turning the ball over five times and accumulating 80 yards in penalties is typically not the recipe for a victory.
But Basha was able to overcome those mistakes, thanks in large part to its quick-strike ability on both sides of the ball, and earn a 34-24 victory over visiting Glendale Mountain Ridge on Friday.
The Bears (2-0), ranked 7th in Division I, scored 27 consecutive points in the middle two quarters to pull away for the win. But the mistakes were still first on everyone’s mind afterward.
“Those turnovers are unacceptable,” said Basha coach Bernie Busken. “If someone makes a great play, then fine. But to throw two interceptions right to them and just not hang onto the ball? That’s not acceptable.”
Basha committed three first-half turnovers which led to 14 Mountain Ridge points. The Mountain Lions (0-2) took advantage of the first two, and converted them into a pair of Treshawn Favors touchdowns and a 14-7 lead early in the second quarter. Mountain Ridge missed a 45-yard field goal on the third turnover.
The Bears began turning the momentum back in their favor as running back Rajhan Meriwether took control midway through the second quarter. He scored on a 53-yard run to tie the game at 14, and set-up Nate Phillips’ 9-yard TD catch with a 29-yard run. Phillips’ score, his sixth of the season on a pretty corner route, gave Basha a 21-14 halftime lead.
Meriwether finished with three scores, including a 4-yard run to make it 34-14 late in the third quarter. He ran for 175 yards on 23 carries and caught four passes for another 27. But like his coach, he was not able to shake his two lost fumbles.
“Those are both my fault,” said the junior who rushed for 147 yards in the first half. “I’m just not looking the ball in. I have to get back to practice and really concentrate on that. I can’t let my team down.”
The Mountain Lions scored the game’s final 10 points, including a 41-yard catch-and-run from Favors with 1:52 to play. Favors totaled 92 yards on the ground and 45 in receptions.
Basha’s defense turned in the play of the night as Dalton Krum returned an interception 70 yards to give the Bears a 28-14 lead with 4:35 left in the third quarter. It was Krum’s second pick of the game and one of three Mountain Ridge turnovers.
“Dalton’s play really was the key,” Busken said.
“We were trying to stay as deep as we could on their routes,” said Krum, whose first interception came at the Bears’ 15 in the final 30 seconds of the first half. “We thought we could break in on them. It was just something we saw on film and it worked out.”
Basha took the game’s first lead on a 16-play, 85-yard drive capped by a four-yard Meriwether run in the first quarter. The Bears converted 3 of 4 third downs and a fourth-and-5 play from the Mountain Lions’ 23. Zach Werlinger hit Meriwether for a 6-yard gain on the fourth down and finished 5-for-7 on the drive for 48 yards. For the night he was 11-for-19 for 106 yards.
“Our defense was able to get some turnovers back for our offense,” Krum said. “We have to pick each other up. We know our offense is going to score. We just have to give them enough opportunities.”
Basha 34, Mtn. Ridge 24
MR – 0 14 0 10 – 24
B – 7 14 13 0 – 34
B – Meriwether 4 run (Carrillo kick)
MR – Favors 1 run (Hernandez kick)
MR – Favors 8 run (Hernandez kick)
B – Meriwether 53 run (Carrillo kick)
B – Phillips 9 pass from Werlinger (Carrillo kick)
B – Krum 70 interception return (Carrillo kick)
B – Meriwether 4 run (kick failed)
M – Hernandez 34 FG
M – Favors 41 pass from Ayers (Hernandez kick)
Rushing 33-103 38-220
Passing 12-32-158-2 11-19-106-2
First downs 12 14
Penalties-yards 8-62 6-80
Fumbles-lost 1-1 3-3