Late in the 3rd quarter, Westwood held a 7-6 lead and looked poised to ruin Red Mountain's homecoming, but the Lions exploded for 35 points in the final 14 minutes for a 41-14 victory.
The first half of the game was a defensive struggle to say the least. The Lions almost exclusively ran the ball to Derek Molina in the first half, and on any passing attempts Derek Mendoza made, the Warriors were able to pressure him effectively. Westwood ran mostly a shotgun option type offense designed to conceal who the true ball carrier was.
The Lions received the kickoff and started at their own 41. 4 plays netted only 9 yards, and the Lions turned the ball over on downs. The teams then traded 5 punts, with Red Mountain's Cody Saul returning one of the punts for a touchdown, only to have it called back by an illegal block in the back penalty. Early in the 2nd quarter, Red Mountain started the only sustained drive of the half by either team, moving 69 yards and scoring on Brett Cerqua's 14 yard touchdown run with 5:00 remaining. The PAT was blocked, leaving the score at 6-0. Three more punts and an interception on the last play of the half by Michael Romero of the Warriors brought the game to halftime in a brisk 45 minutes.
The second half began with 2 long scoring drives. Westwood ate up half of the quarter on a 76 yard drove, capped off by Marshall Davis's 8 yard scoring pass to Chris Lopez. The PAT by Jonathan Padilla gave Westwood a 7-6 lead with 6:22 left in the 3rd. Red Mountain answered with a 78 yard scoring drive, capped by Cerqua's 2nd touchdown run of the night, this one from 2 yards away. Derek Molina ran in for the 2 point conversion making it 14-7 Lions with 1:32 left.
Then, the fireworks began.
Less than a minute later, Julian Madison intercepted Davis at the Lions 46. Then, facing a 3rd and 12, Derek Mendoza hit Cody Saul for a 56 yard touchdown pass, making it 21-7 with 11:43 to play. It took just 15 seconds for the Lions to score again. In a play eerily similar to the previous week's game, Victor "Lucien" Mariano picked off Davis and brought it back 23 yards for the touchdown, increasing the margin to 28-7 with 11:28 to play. It was Mariano's 2nd straight game with an interception return for a touchdown, and the 6th game in a row that the Lions had scored a defensive touchdown.
Westwood was not done yet. They drove 80 yards and scored on a 17 yard touchdown down run by Jake Tyra, making it 28-14 with 6:45 remaining. The Warriors then recovered the ensuing onside kick at the Lion's 38. Any momentum Westwood had was erased on the next play, as a long pass was intercepted by Julian Madison at the 16 yard line. Less than a minute later, Derek Molina burst through the right side of the line for a 56 yard touchdown run, and it was 34-14 with 5:52 to play. The Lions held the Warriors to a 3 and out. After a short punt, the Lions let the senior reserve players take over on offense. They moved 40 yards and scored on a Grayson Willard 11 yard run with 1:44 left, set up by a 24 yard catch and run by Francisco Dionisio. Westwood then moved the ball downfield on runs inside the Lions 20 as time expired.
Bottom Line: Each team did a much better job of moving the ball in the second half, but the 3 interceptions by Red Mountain were the difference.
Game Balls: Julian Madison had a night he will not soon forget, making the 2 game changing interceptions and several tackles after being elected homecoming king. Cody Saul and Derek Molina also had big night on offense, with Craig Frum making many tackles on defense.
Westwood got good performances from Jake Tyra and Zavier Cubean running the ball, and Kyle Sagale was a leader on defense.