The tale of Friday night’s Vista Grande-Perry game might have been told on each team’s first possession.
Facing a fourth-and-11, the Pumas completed a 19-yard pass and scored a touchdown four plays later. Vista Grande marched 73 yards, stalled and gave the ball back on downs.
Perry scored on all five first-half possessions and raced to a 38-6 win over the Spartans at John Wrenn Stadium. It was the same final score as VG’s loss last week 4 miles away at Higley.
Like that game a week earlier, the Spartans were able to move the ball between the 20s before their offense stalled.
“We seem to sputter in the red zone for whatever reason,” Vista Grande coach Carlo Hernandez said. “That is something we need to fix.”
After Vista Grande (1-5) had its first drive halted at the Puma 20, Perry took just four plays to score on a 48-yard pass from sophomore quarterback Austin Nightingale to Trey Hatch. Four different players scored first-half touchdowns for the Pumas (4-2), and Mikey Aguirre added a 28-yard field goal before halftime for a 31-0 lead.
Sergio Iruegas returned the second-half kickoff 53 yards to give the Spartans great field position at the Perry 43. It took Vista Grande 12 plays and almost eight minutes before Brandon Ortega scored on a fourth-down rush from the 1.
The Pumas ran only four plays from scrimmage in the third quarter, turning the ball over when Anthony Hernandez intercepted a pass at the VG 48. The Spartans got a first down at the Perry 12 but couldn’t push in a score.
That was the last scoring threat for Vista Grande, which finished with 222 total yards. Meanwhile, the Pumas continued to mix their attack out of their no-huddle offense and finished with 474 total yards. They averaged 8 yards per carry on their 33 rushes and were efficient through the air with 10 of 14 completions for 208 yards split between Nightingale and senior Taelon Parson.
“Our first half was fairly efficient, but I was really disappointed in how we played in the second half,” Puma coach Preston Jones said. “We didn’t make a statement on our first drive. We didn’t stop them (Spartans). They stopped themselves.”
Ortega had his best offensive game, becoming the first Spartan this season to eclipse 100 yards by rushing 21 times for 101 yards. Patrick Amerson again was accurate with his passing, completing 13 of 20 passes, although he was intercepted twice. Amerson was 10-of-12 in the second half using the short pass to help move the Vista Grande offense. Tevon Mitchell was the main recipient with seven catches in the game.
“We keep battling and showing some fight,” Hernandez said. “I thought the kids worked hard and gave a good effort. It just seems we give up one big play that results in a touchdown, or we just can’t make the key play.”