Habits can be difficult to break, but Apache Junction had better change one quickly if it wants to have a successful season.
The host Prospectors (4-2) lost five fumbles, including a pair inside their own 20-yard-line, as they dropped a 21-12 decision to Phoenix Greenway (5-1) in a 4A nonregion game.
Greenway gained less than 200 yards on the night, but only had to move the ball 13 and 18 yards, respectively, on its decisive scoring drives.
The five lost fumbles are not even a season-high for the Prospectors, who fumbled seven times in a win over Agua Fria three weeks ago.
“It’s frustrating,” Apache Junction coach Rich Milligan said after his team’s four-game win streak came to an end in its homecoming game. “As coaches we are supposed to have the answers. Right now we are searching for the answers.”
The final Prospector fumble led to a three-play, 18-yard scoring drive for the Demons. Mark Mann caught a 13-yard pass from Keith Graham to give Greenway a 21-6 lead with 5:59 left in the game.
Apache Junction responded by moving to the Demons' 7-yard-line, but the drive stalled there after a failed pass on fourth down.
The Prospectors got the ball back a minute later and went 40 yards in two plays. David Fernando caught an 18-yard scoring pass from Roy Machuca to make it 21-12 with 38 seconds remaining. The conversion pass failed, as did the ensuing on-side kick, and Greenway ran out the clock.
“We lost by nine to a very good football team,” Milligan said. “We know we have to get much, much better to make a run at it this season. “
The Prospectors, who lost three fumbles in the first half, came to life midway through the third quarter. Harrison Pomeroy capped an 11-play, 89-yard drive with a 30-yard scoring run. The score made it 14-6 after the point-after kick failed on a poor snap. Pomeroy finished with 88 yards on 14 carries.
Greenway, which finished with 98 yards rushing and 86 passing, took a 7-0 lead on the second play of the second quarter. Austin Adams scored on a 4-yard run to complete an 8-play, 54-yard drive.
The Demons made it 14-0 less than a minute later after recovering the third Prospector fumble. Tyler Bergsten caught an 11-yard scoring pass from Graham two plays after the turnover.
“We don’t have any choice but to get better, and we know where we have to put our focus,” said Milligan in reference to the turnovers.