Defense wins ball games, a story as old as time itself. Friday night’s game between Mesquite High school and American Leadership Academy-Queen Creek was no exception.
The last meeting between these two teams saw 102 points combined. But the scoring expectations of Friday night's 4A Conference semifinal game were not necessarily met. However, both defenses put on a show in Mesquite's 19-16 win.
The win sends Mesquite back to the 4A Championship game next week. Led all season by star quarterback Ty Thompson, it was the Wildcats' defensive play that made an impact early on.
Junior athlete Andrew Morris got things started with an early interception. That turnover led to a touchdown pass from Thompson to Morris on the other end. Thompson controlled the tempo of the offense, completing 20 of his passes and accounting for 264 yards and three touchdowns.
Nonetheless, the defense for both teams proved to be key, with ALA's Kawai King picking off Thompson twice. Both proved to be important plays in the Patriots' ability to keep the game close.
However, with multiple fourth down stops throughout the game, Mesquite was able to overcome a late safety and kickoff return for a touchdown by forcing ALA into a failed last-second field goal attempt.
Mesquite coach Scott Hare said he was pleased with his defense “staying the course” and was comfortable with “the gameplan working well”.
No. 3 Mesquite will face top-ranked Cactus on Friday, Dec. 11 in the 4A Conference championship game at Highland High School. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.