Defensive takeaways were key in No. 3 Perry’s 38-25 home victory over No. 14 Mountain Ridge in the first round of the 6A football playoffs.
Perry shot out to an early lead, and held on until the end to secure what looked, from the score, like an easy victory.
However, Mountain Ridge had its chances and nearly mounted a comeback. Down 38-19, the Mountain Lions drove the field for a touchdown to cut the lead to 13, recovered an onside kick and got into the red zone before an interception in the final minute – the Pumas’ fifth of the night – ended the game.
“Defense won the game for us. I think they had five takeaways, scored once and made some big plays, and that was the difference,” said Perry coach Preston Jones.
Despite scoring 38 points, Perry’s offense got off to a slow start, gaining just one first down in the first quarter. But, Puma senior defensive back Kobe Rome returned an interception 97 yards for the opening score. From there, quarterback Chubba Purdy and the rest of the offense appeared motivated to move the ball.
“I saw it, and as soon as I caught the ball I knew that this was going to start us off, and get our offense moving and our defense hyped. Everybody was live after that,” Rome said.
While Mountain Ridge clogged running lanes and maintained a consistent pass rush, Purdy scooted around the pocket, creating enough time to find receivers downfield for long touchdown passes to take a 21-0 lead midway through the second quarter.
However, the Mountain Lions drove down the field for a score, intercepted a pass just three plays later, and pounded in another touchdown with just 15 second remaining in the quarter to trim Perry’s lead to 21-13 at the half.
Perry took the momentum back right away in the third quarter. Mountain Ridge’s pass rush continued, but Purdy was able to continue shedding tackles. Rather than throw, though, he often kept the ball and ran for large chunks of yards. Purdy ran for two touchdowns in the period.
Jones said his start quarterback saved the struggling offense from itself at times when plays broke down. His runs in the fourth quarter helped run the clock down and give the Mountain Lions little time to make a comeback.
“A lot of them were by design but sometimes he scrambles and he makes us look smart,” Jones said of the quarterback sneaks.
Perry (7-4) will host No. 6 Desert Vista (8-3) in the 6A quarterfinals on Nov. 15. The Pumas defeated the Thunder in the same round last season, but Jones knows it will be no easy task to do it again. He said the Pumas need to keep up their defensive production, but also see great improvement from their offense if they want to reach the semifinals.
“We’re not a good enough team offensively to have anyone mess up. So we’ve got to be better,” Jones said.
“Coach (Dan) Hinds has a great team over there, and we’re just excited to be playing another round,” he added.:
Mountain Ridge ends its season at 5-6, a tremendous turnaround after going 0-10 in 2018.
PER – Rome 97 interception return (McCarthy kick), 5:36
PER – Berger 38 pass from Purdy (McCarthy kick), 7:38
PER – Young 75 pass from Purdy (McCarthy kick), 5:42
MOU – Thompson 2 run (Comstock kick), 3:11
MOU – Stancato 2 run (kick failed), 0:15
PER – Purdy 17 run (McCarthy kick), 7:43
PER – Purdy 2 run (McCarthy kick), 3:16
MOU – Stancato 27 pass from Stancato (two-point attempt failed), 9:32
PER – McCarthy 29 kick, 4:06
MOU – Thompson 6 pass from Stancato (two-point attempt failed), 1:59