Despite injuries and a slow start, Desert Ridge pulled off a 38-14 win against Mesa on Friday. To start the game Desert Ridge (7-1) took the ball from Mesa with a squib kick that the Jackrabbits couldn’t cover. The Jaguars would then get on the board on their first play with a 35-yard run by running back JJ Husar.
Mesa would answer with a 57-yard running touchdown by Eugene Mcllhenny. The game took an ominous turn for Desert Ridge when Husar went down at the end of a 20 yard run and couldn’t get up. Husar was carried off the field and would not return. He suffered an injury to his left leg, and was put in a cast.
While there were fears Husar did major damage, coach Jeremy Hathcock wrote on Twitter Friday night that it was only a sprained medial collateral ligament.
The Jaguars weren’t able to convert on the field position Husar put them in and wouldn’t be able to regain their momentum until late in the first. Sophomore quarterback Tarek Morrison would step up for Desert Ridge and score two touchdowns, including a 71-yard run, in the last three minutes of the first half.
Morrison finished with 202 yards rushing and two touchdowns, thanks to a few breakout plays. The Jaguars went into the half up 21-7, and wouldn’t look back.
Desert Ridge never tried to get much going through the air. Brendon Smith split time with Morrison under center, combining to go 7-for-9 passing with 83 yards and one interception each. Morrison played most of the game at running back if he wasn’t in at quarterback, a combination that worked well for the Jaguars with Husar out.
Mesa’s offense stalled coming out of the half. On fourth and long Marcus Winner blocked the Jackrabbits punt, and Dylan Spaid picked it up and ran it five yards into the end zone for Desert Ridge.
“Our special teams really cost us. It’s kind of amazing, some of the mistakes you make,” said Mesa coach Kelley Moore. “We practice them all the time. We just didn’t execute.”
Mesa (2-6) was led by quarterback Lucas Moen, who rushed for 30 yards and was 11-for- 19 passing for 104 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Their leading rusher on the night was Mcllhenny, although 57 of his 63 yards came on his scoring play in the first quarter.
Danny Siaumau would add on to the Desert Ridge lead with a six-yard run. Siaumau finished the game with 16 carries for 78 yards and one touchdown. The team as a whole rushed for 350 yards on 33 carries, despite missing Husar for all but two running plays.
Despite picking up the win, Desert Ridge coach Jeremy Hathcock wasn’t pleased with his team’s performance. For the third week in a row they had over 15 penalties, this time 17 for 146 yards.
“We’re a very undisciplined football team,” Hathcock said “Mesa played harder than us, we just happened to have a little more talent. We’re just too sloppy.”
Hathcock said they have a talented team at Desert Ridge, and he needs senior players to step up if they want to make a strong run into the playoffs.
First downs: DR 8; Mesa 6
Rushing: DR 33- 350; Mesa 30-119
Passing: DR 7-9-82-2; Mesa 11-19-104-1
Penalties: DR 17-146; Mesa 7-40
Fumbles-Lost: DR 0-0; Mesa 2-2
DR – Husar 35 run (Solis kick)
M – Mcllhenny 57 run (Pereles kick)
DR – Morrison 12 run (Solis kick)
DR – Morrison 71 run (Solis kick)
DR – Spaid blocked kick return (Solis kick)
DR – Siaumau 6 run (Solis kick)
DR – Solis 25 kick
M – Young 32 pass from Moen