Phoenix Brophy survived a challenge from a tenacious Mesa squad and hung on for a 26-18 win Friday night in 5A Fiesta Region play at Phoenix College.
The Broncos (6-1, 3-0) were clinging to a 26-18 lead when Jackrabbits (5-3, 1-3) got the ball back with 4:10 left, needing 77 yards for the potential game-tying score.
Mesa got inside the red zone and had first-and-10 on the Brophy 19-yard line. Parker dropped back to pass and threw to Tyler Fackrell on a post route in the end zone as the defender covering Fackrell tripped and fell. It appeared to be an easy touchdown catch, but Fackrell had the ball hit him in the fingertips and slip away for an incompletion in the end zone.
Two plays later, Broncos defensive back Joe Maggi picked off Parker off in the back of the end zone to seal the win.
“I hope the loss stings enough to do something about it,” Mesa coach Kelley Moore said. “That’s three times we’ve had our chances, and were 0-for-3.”
The Broncos were up 19-6 heading into the fourth quarter and were driving, looking for the knockout punch against the Jackrabbits. Quarterback Chase Knox threw into the end zone, but the pass was picked off by Mesa’s Jaymen Green at the goal line. Green returned the ball to the Brophy 48-yard line.
“Green is our spark plug,” Moore said. “If he doesn’t do that, were not in the game.”
Two plays later, Mesa quarterback Dallin Parker found Devontae Kellybrew for a 16-yard touchdown on a screen pass. The extra point failed, though, and Mesa trailed 19-12 with 10:29 left.
Brophy countered with a Max Leonesio 4-yard touchdown run to reestablish a two-touchdown lead.
“When Mesa scores to make it 19-12, we responded right back, and that was an important touchdown,” Brophy coach Scooter Molander said. “They clearly had the momentum.”
Mesa fought back with a five-play, 80-yard drive that ended with Kellybrew’s second touchdown catch of the quarter, this one from 48 yards out to get the Jackrabbits within 26-18.
Mesa went for the two-point conversion on the ground and was stopped just short of the end zone, leaving an eight-point margin with six minutes to play.
Ely Lozano started the scoring for Mesa with a 2-yard run on the game’s first drive, but the extra point was blocked. Brophy responded with an Alex Garoutte 21-yard field goal to cut the Jackrabbits’ lead to 6-3 after the first quarter.
Leonesio scored on a 1-yard run four minutes into the second quarter to give Brophy a 10-6 lead, and Jordan Graves reeled in a 17-yard touchdown pass from Knox to make it 16-6 midway through the quarter.
Garoutte hit a 37-yard field goal as time expired in the first half for the 19-6 lead.
Leonesio finished with 194 yards and two touchdowns for Brophy.
“He has great vision,” Molander said. “He cut it back against the grain a couple times and he gets north and south.”
Brophy will need to be on top of its game next week — the Broncos take on Hamilton in what could be a preview of the state championship game.
“There’s plenty to work on, Molander said. “They’ve got a tremendous ball club. You have to play efficiently and smartly against Hamilton.”
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Ely Lozano plows into the end zone from the 2-yard line to put up 6-0 early in the first quarter. The extra point is blocked.
After intercepting a Brophy pass, Mesa lines up for a 50-yard field goal. The kick is blocked and the lead is still 6-0.
A Brophy drive ends deep in Mesa territory but yields a 21-yard field goal by Alex Garroutte to cut Mesa's lead to 6-3 with 4:22 left in the opening quarter.
Max Leonesio scores from a yard out and Brophy takes the lead with 8:05 left in the half. The extra point is good and it's 10-6 Brophy.
A 17-yard touchdown pass from Knox to Graves with 5:14 left in the half puts Brophy up 16-6, but the extra point is missed.
Brophy moves the ball 51 yards in 41 seconds and caps off the first half with a Garroutte FG from 37 yards out to make it 19-6 at the break.
Mesa's Devontae Killybrew takes a screen pass 15 yards for a touchdown, cutting Brophy's lead to 19-12 with 10:29 left in the game. The extra point is wide right.
Leonesio punches it in on a 4-yard touchdown run, giving Brophy a 26-12 lead with 6:52 left in the game.
Mesa is right back in it, as Parker hits Killebrew for a 48-yard TD pass with exactly 6:00 left in the game. The Jackrabbits go for two but don't get it, making the score 26-18 Brophy.
After Mesa converts a fourth-and-8 with a 29-yard completion, Brophy's Joe Maggi picks off a Parker pass in the end zone with 1:15 left. Brophy should be able to hold on for the win.
Mesa (5-2, 1-2) at Brophy (5-1, 2-0)
Time: 7 p.m.
Address: 1202 W. Thomas Road (Phoenix College)
Key matchup: Mesa’s defense has been sneaky stingy most of this season, but not even Chandler has the balanced offense Brophy does with Max Leonesio running and Chase Knox throwing to four or five different receivers. Can the Jackrabbits defend while being spread out the length of the field?
Key stat: Mesa had 44 carries for 314 yards in last week’s win.
The intrigue: Mesa is No. 2 in power points (that’s going to change a little) and has played Chandler and Mesa Red Mountain down to the wire, so the Broncos dare not peek ahead to next week’s Hamilton matchup. Brophy had a week off to rest and heal, and that kind of preparation time often spells doom for opponents.