For at least the first half, the Mesquite Wildcats gravitated to the end zone like a moth to the flame one their way to a simple and satisfying 41-13 victory against the Ironwood Eagles on Friday night.
The Wildcats (3-1) set the tone on their first possession, driving the ball with ease through the Eagles' (0-4) defense en route to a 9-yard touchdown run by Paul Perry. A reprisal of the first verse came on the second possession, with Mesquite smoothly gaining large amounts of yardage on a drive that ended with a 15-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Payton Haslam to Nolan Tondreau.
Every possession in the first half until the very last one continued in the same vein: Juan Giraldo caught and ran for a 66-yard touchdown; Jordan Robinson returned an interception 40 yards for a touchdown and proceeded to find the end zone again on a short pass from Haslam; and Giraldo topped it off with a 22-yard touchdown run with a tad more than a minute left in the second quarter.
As the offense rolled along, the defense continually stuffed the Eagles' offensive attack, allowing just two first downs and one third-down conversation for the entire first half. The special teams unit even got in on the action toward the end of the second quarter when Justin Merkel recovered a fumble deep in Ironwood territory after the Wildcats' eighth kickoff of the half.
The totality of the first 24 minutes of play for the Wildcats encompassed 11 first downs, five third-down conversations, a fourth-down conversation, one incomplete pass from Haslam and, most importantly, a 41-0 lead.
“We had three doggone close games, and we wanted to break one open,” said coach Jim Jones.
Ironwood's offense did gain a little life late in the third quarter and early in the fourth, with quarterbacks Jeff Robertson and Justin Cameron each connecting for deep touchdowns to receivers Jourdain Dong and Tanner Lynn, respectively. But the Eagles' attempts to launch an epic comeback were quashed when they failed to convert two onside kicks following their two touchdowns.
Leading the Wildcats' offensive attack was Haslam, who completed seven of eight passes for 160 yards and three touchdowns to Tondreau, Giraldo and Robinson. Of the eight Mesquite players to end the game with receptions, Tondreau tallied the most catches with three, while Giraldo led the team in receiving yards with 77.
Pacing the team's ground attack was Perry, who ran for 116 yard and a touchdown on 22 carries, and he was followed in that category by Giraldo, who had four carries for 42 yards and a touchdown.
Ironwood 13, Mesquite 41
Ironwood 0 0 7 6 -- 13
Mesquite 27 14 0 0 -- 41
First Downs: Ironwood 9, Mesquite 15
Rushing: Ironwood 20-62, Mesquite 39-196
Passing (Comp.-Att.-TD-INT): Ironwood 10-25-228-2-1, Mesquite 11-17-183-3-0
Fumbles-lost: Ironwood 3-1, Mesquite 3-0
Penalties-yards: Ironwood 5-45, Mesquite 11-112
Mesquite – Paul Perry 9-yard run (Jarrod James kick)
Mesquite – Payton Haslam 15-yard pass to Nolan Tondreau (James kick kick)
Mesquite – Haslam 66-yard pass to Juan Giraldo (no kick)
Mesquite – Jordan Robinson 40-yard interception return (James kick)
Mesquite – Haslam 4-yard pass to Robinson (James kick)
Mesquite – Giraldo 22-yard run (James kick)
Ironwood – Jett Robertson 64-yard pass to Jourdain Dong (Jacob Garza kick)
Ironwood – Justin Cameron 83-yard pass to Tanner Lynn (no kick)
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