Cesar Chavez used a balanced attack from the shotgun formation and capitalized on 3 Lions turnovers to avenge a 57-6 loss from a year ago.
Red Mountain took the opening kickoff and drove 58 yards behind runs from Brett Cerqua and Derek Molina to take an early 7-0 lead, 3:05 into the ballgame. Cerqua finished the drive with a 3 yard scoring run, with Colton Sheley kicking the extra point. Chavez answered with an 80 yard touchdown drive, led by the running of Terry Smith, who started it with a 38 yard carry. Quarterback Brandon Cluff finished it with a 1 yard sneak, and Lyle Blummears kicked the extra point tying the game 7-7 with 6:47 on the clock.
Red Mountain picked up a first down on their next drive, but Molina lost a fumble at his own 32 yard line. Chavez converted the turnover into a touchdown on a Cluff 6 yard touchdown pass to freshman Devonte Neal, putting the Champions ahead 14-7 with 3:20 left in the 1st quarter.
On their next possession, a 46 yard gain by Molina moved the Lions to the Chavez 12; however, two holding penalties killed the drive. The ensuing 35 yard field goal attempt by Sheley was blocked by Neal, and the Champions took over at their own 40 as the first quarter expired. Chavez drove 60 yards taking over four minutes off the clock and scoring on Terry Smith's 4 yard run. The PAT was blocked, and the Champions had a 20-7 lead. Red Mountain answered on an almost 5 minute drive of their own, moving 65 yards. Brett Cerqua scored his 2nd touchdown from 3 yards away, making it 20-14 with 2:56 left in the 1st half.
The Champions then quickly moved 81 yards, striking on a 59 yard touchdown pass from Cluff to Harold Gossett. The 2 point conversion failed, making it 26-14 with 1:10 left. On the next play, Devonte Neal intercepted Derek Mendoza at the Lion 46, and Chavez tried to break the game open.
The Champions attempted a hook and ladder pass attempt that might have resulted in a touchdown, but the receiver was hit by Joe Soria and never caught the pass. On the next play, Smith was unable to handle a backwards pass. Kris Moksvold scooped up the ball for the Lions and raced 45 yards for the touchdown with 41 seconds remaining. Chaves ran out the first half with the score 26-21 Champions.
Chavez took the ball to start the second half and moved from their 20 to the Lions 38 before the Lions stopped the Champions on 4th and 5. Red Mountain then ate up over 5 minutes on a 62 yard scoring drive, converting a 4th and 2 along the way. Derek Molina's 5 yard scoring run gave the Lions the lead again. Neal blocked the extra point, his second blocked kick of the game, and with 3:11 remaining in the 3rd quarter, it was 27-26. Chavez regained the momentum on the final play of the quarter with Cluff connecting on a 60 yard touchdown pass to, who else, Devonte Neal. Another failed 2 point conversion left the score at 32-27.
The Lions tried to answer once again, but another Molina fumble was recovered by the Champions at midfield. Chavez padded their lead on Cluff's 2nd touchdown run from a yard away. Blummears extra point made it 39-27 with 8:10 remaining. Red Mountain was forced into the only punt by either team in the entire ballgame, a 61 yarder pinning the Champions back at their own 12. Chavez proceeded to run out the final 6:38 to complete the victory.
Bottom Line: With the exception of the one unforced fumble, and the clock expiring at the end of both halves, the Lions were only able to stop the Champion's offense once as they rolled to around 500 total yards. The two lost fumbles by Molina which were both converted into Chavez touchdowns were huge.
Red Mountain: Asides from the fumbles, Derek Molina ran for over 103 yards on 23 carries. The top defensive performer was Lucien Mariano.
Chavez: James Edwards was the leading tackler. Cluff threw for 241 yards and 3 touchdowns and ran for 2 more. Smith totaled over 150 yards on the ground.
The player of the game though was freshman Devonte Neal, with 2 touchdown catches, 1 interception, and 2 blocked kicks.