By Edward Carifio
On the second play of the night, Cibola quarterback Lucky Arvizo Jr. found Deante Gaines for a 69-yard touchdown pass, staking the Raiders to an early lead against Tempe-Corona del Sol.
That just fired up the Aztecs.
Corona del Sol scored on four of its five first-half possessions, while the Aztec defense held the Raiders without another score until the fourth quarter in a 39-14 win over Cibola at Raider Field on Friday.
The Raiders (5-1) had a chance to go up two scores early on against the Aztecs (4-2). Austin Olaiz jumped the route on a screen pass for an interception and took off from the Raider 30. But he was caught from behind and stripped at the Aztec 12 by Tevin Mayfield and Corona del Sol recovered.
The Aztecs followed with a 10-play, 88-yard drive for their first touchdown, a 4-yard run by Dominic Mercurio, to tie the game.
“Our guys played hard and those things happen. You get an interception and unfortunately you don’t see the guy coming behind you,” Cibola coach Lucky Arvizo Sr. said. “Austin had a great break on the ball, got a great interception and played a great game.”
Corona del Sol coach Tom Joseph said the touchdown angered both he and his players.
“That big play at the beginning really upset me,” Joseph said. “We worked on that all week. They did a great job of throwing it. He got behind us, and that angered me. That lit our fuse. They got that score and it never should have happened. All it did was fire up our kids.”
The Aztecs scored on all three second-quarter possessions. Their first two drives ended in touchdowns followed by two-point conversions, then added a late field goal for a 26-7 halftime lead. By the time the Raiders scored their last touchdown, it cut the score to 39-14. Corona del Sol had another chance to score, first and goal from the Cibola 1, but kneeled down four times to bring the clock to less than 1:40. The Aztecs put in their backups, and that last stretch is when Cibola running back Jordan Mitchell ran for 58 of his 197 yards.
Cibola had two first-half possessions reach the red zone —not counting the fumbled interception return — but didn’t score on either.
“When you play a good team, you have to take advantage of your opportunities,” Arvizo Sr. said. “We were down in the red zone a couple times, and unfortunately we couldn’t get in.”
The Aztecs outgained the Raiders 531-329, including 377-206 on the ground. Mercurio ran for 209 yards on 30 carries. He ran for a touchdown, caught a touchdown, and a threw a touchdown on a trick to play quarterback Kyle Busk to give Corona del Sol a 15-7 lead. James Contes added 123 yards on 12 carries to go with a receiving and rushing touchdown. Busk completed eight of 12 passes for 156 yards.
“We thought we could throw the ball, but we didn’t think we could run like we did,” Joseph said. “We just had a big success running the ball. We just didn’t think we could run like that, but we had some success so we figured we’d keep going at that. The linemen did a great job. It’s not the backs. Anybody could run behind those guys.”
Arvizo completed six of his 12 passes for 123 yards and threw an interception.