Cartwright, Aztecs pound Mountain Lions on Cox 7 Thursday night
Led by an exceptional passing performance from Chase Cartwright and dominating defensive line play, the Aztecs improved to 2-0 with a 37-12 victory over RedMountain Thursday night at Haskel Henshaw stadium on the campus of Corona del Sol high school.
Each team began with 3 and outs on their first possessions. RedMountain struck first on Corona's punt, as Derek Molina received the kick at his own 11 yard line near the right sideline, cut back to his left, and outraced the Aztec coverage down the left sideline for an 89 yard touchdown. Michael Lange blocked Colton Sheley's PAT attempt, and the Lions were up 6-0 with remaining in the 1st quarter. The Aztecs answered with an 11 play, 80 yard drive featuring three 3rd down converstions. Lange's 11 yard run converted a 3rd and 5 from the Aztec 25. Cartwright hit Lange on a 14 yard pass on 3rd and 9 from the Aztec 48. Finally, on 3rd and 19, Cartwright connected with Brendon Tunstall on a 25 yard touchdown pass, and Kirby Pellant's extra point put Corona on top 7-6 with on the clock. Both teams traded punts as the first quarter came to a close.
The Lions finally got their first 1st down of the game on a pass interference penalty, then connected on a 22 yard pass from quarterback Derek Mendoza to JT Petsch that moved the Lions to the 47 yard line. On the next play, however, Ryan Nolan intercepted Mendoza'a pass and brought it back 23 yards to the Lions 26. The Aztecs had a 1st and goal at the 9, but the Lion's defense stiffened, and Corona settled for a Pellant 33 yard field goal, making the score 10-6 at the 7:29 mark of the 2nd quarter. Derek Molina's 41 yard kickoff return set the Lions up at the Aztec 47; however, 2 plays later, the Aztec's Kyle Benson intercepted another Mendoza pass. Two plays after that, Cartwright once again connected with Tunstall on a perfect pass resulting in a 49 yard touchdown. Pellant's kick made it 17-6 at the mark.
Things then went from bad to worse for RedMountain. Pushed back to their own 10 yard line, the Lions tried a sweep right to Mark Jarrett, but Luke Macchiaroli forced a fumble, and Ryan Nolan fell on the ball in the end zone for another Aztec touchdown with left. There were no more first downs the rest of the quarter, and the halftime score was 24-6 Corona.
Corona went 3 and out to start the 3rd quarter. RedMountain got good field position following a short punt, but could only get as far as the Aztec 39 (their deepest penetration of the game) before a loss and a penalty resulted in the Lions facing a 4th and 15 from midfield. The Lions then attempted a fake punt, with backup QB Dillon Parks finding Chandler Davenport on a 43 yard pass. However, RedMountain only had 5 men at the line of scrimmage at the snap, and the flag was thrown negating the long gain. After the ensuing punt, Corona proceeded to march 67 yards on 12 plays, with Kirby Pellant making 2 big catches, including a 26 yard catch and run, and a 9 yard grab on 3rd and 4. The score came on a Cartwright to Macchiaroli 2 yard pass on 4th and 1, making it 31-6. Derek Molina again showed off his return ability by fielding the ensuing kickoff and racing untouched 90 yards for the touchdown. The extra point failed making it 31-12 with :55.5 remaining in the 3rd quarter.
It took just 3 plays for the Aztecs to put up the final points of the night, as Evan Althiede broke free for a 67 yard touchdown run on the first play of the 4th quarter. A taunting penalty on Althiede as he scored resulted in a longer than usual extra point try, which was blocked by Brett Cerqua. There were no more serious threats to score in the game, and the final score was 37-12 in favor of the Aztecs.
Bottom Line: The Aztecs were quicker and much stronger in the trenches than the Lions, and appeared to benefit from already having a game in their belt. RedMountain could never get a running game going, totaling just 57 yards on 32 tries, with Aztec players seemingly in their backfield all night. The Lions also showed poor tackling at times, including the long TD run. In all, the Aztecs out gained the Lions 339 to 111.
For the Aztecs, Chase Cartwright was 12 of 19 for 172 yards and 3 touchdowns. Michael Lange led the ground game with 69 yards on 21 carries. Kirby Pellant was all over the field, rushing, receiving, returning kicks and kicking. Defensively, Tyler Giannonatti and Vince Bonanno were in the Lions backfield all night. Another player to keep an eye on in the future is Todd Peat, listed at 6'2 and 270 pounds, had 3 tackles, and happens to be a sophomore.
For the Lions, obviously it was Derek Molina, with 3 kick returns totaling 220 yards and 2 touchdowns. Lucian Mariano, Kirk Mills, Tyler Grant, and Craig Frum were the standouts on defense.