Mesa Red Mountain stuffed J.R. Hamm on a two-point conversion attempt with no time remaining to preserve a 14-12 win over Tempe Corona del Sol in a 5A-I nonregion game Friday at Red Mountain.
The Aztecs (0-2) controlled the line of scrimmage on offense and defense but had trouble scoring when they got close.
“We had plenty of chances to beat them but we couldn’t score in the red zone,” said senior receiver Eric Benson, who caught Corona’s lone TD as time expired. “I knew we were going to score (on that last possession). I believe in our team.”
Two 50-yard passes from Taylor Perkins to Aaron Ellsworth keyed the first-half scoring for Red Mountain (1-0).
He hit a wide-open Ellsworth in the opening quarter for their first score. Ellsworth later made a leaping catch to set up a 15-yard scoring run by Jarison Johnson for a 14-6 lead with 3:17 left in the first half.
“I’ve never played in a game like that,” Perkins said. “Our big-play guys really had to step up.”
Red Mountain coach Jim Jones hopes the close call wakes up his team.
“They had a great game plan for us,” Jones said. “They controlled us up front. We’re pretty proud of our front three so that wasn’t expected.”
Corona had to settle for two field goals from Kirby Pellant in the first half after the Aztecs only gained one yard in two possessions after reaching the Red Mountain 20-yard line. Pellant missed a 39-yard attempt with eight minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
“We had our chances,” coach Gary Venturo said. “We shot ourselves in the foot.”
Red Mountain put together a drive in the fourth quarter that nearly sealed the game as it burned five minutes with 14 plays before turning the ball over on downs.
Corona was stopped on its next possession after failing to convert a fourth-and-14 play on its own 28-yard line. But the Aztecs got the ball back in time for its lone TD drive when Ellsworth fumbled at the 1-yard line and Lucas Starkey recovered for Corona.