After spending almost the entire evening squandering red zone opportunities, Red Mountain finished the job in the second overtime of their first round playoff match at Mountain Ridge High School in Glendale.
Red Mountain took the opening kickoff and started at their own 32. They came out with Grayson Willard as the starting running back and used 3 wide receiver sets with Derek Molina as the slot receiver. Red Mountain drove 13 plays to the game's first score, the key play being a 36 yard run by Willard on 3rd and 1. In a foreshadowing of things to come, it took the Lions 6 plays to move the final 5 yards, with Derek Mendoza finally scoring on a quarterback sneak on 4th and goal at the 1. Colton Sheley's extra point made it 7-0 with 5:54 remaining in the opening quarter.
Each team then went 3 and out and punted. Red Mountain got the first turnover of the game shortly thereafter on a great individual play by Josh Lunsford, who knocked a Kevin Yost pass into the air and intercepted it at the Mountain Ridge 27. Red Mountain reached the 1 yard line, but on the 3rd and goal play, Mendoza fumbled the snap and Calvin Martin recovered for Mountain Ridge with 17.6 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
Ridge then put together their best drive of the first half, moving from their own 2 to the RM 34. However, a holding penalty killed the drive, and they turned the ball over on downs at the 35 after eating up 6:26 off the clock on 15 plays. Red Mountain went 3 and out, and Calvin Martin returned the ensuing punt 41 yards to the RM 22. Ridge could not pick up a first down though, and turned it over on downs once again.
After another RM 3 and out and punt, Mt. Ridge got a first down and moved into RM territory. The drive, however, was abruptly ended by a Brett Cerqua interception, and Red Mountain moved back into Mt. Ridge territory as the clock ticked down under a minute. Derek Molina reached the 20 yard line on a short reception, but he fumbled and Brett Hager recovered for Mt. Ridge. One more play ran out the first half clock, with Red Mountain ahead, 7-0.
Red Mountain got a big break to begin the second half as Martin fumbled the kickoff and RM recovered at the Ridge 28. RM moved to the 5 and faced a 4th and 1. Mendoza turned to hand the ball off, but was unable to complete the hand off, and could not pick up the first down on his own. Mt. Ridge went 3 and out and punted. Red Mountain again drove downfield thanks to a 3rd down pass to Cody Saul, and a pass interference penalty on 4th and 7. The drive stalled at the 14, and the 32 yard field goal attempt by Colton Sheley into the wind was no good.
Finally, Mt. Ridge was able to answer. On 3rd and 6 from the 35, Yost connected with Matthew Marolda for 44 yards. 2 plays later, trickery got Ridge into the end zone. Yost threw a backwards pass Travis Hutchinson, who then turned and found Cory Wollschlager in the end zone for the 13 yard touchdown. The extra point by Johnny Chavez tied the score at 7 with 15.8 seconds left in the 3rd quarter.
Red Mountain got one first down on their next drive, thanks to a 26 yard run by Willard, then were forced to punt, pinning Ridge at their own 9. Ridge then ate up over 6 minutes off the clock, driving 12 plays, including a risky 4th and 1 conversion from their own 28. Their drive stalled at their own 44, and they had to punt.
A penalty on the punt pinned Red Mountain back at their own 18 with 4:09 to play. This was when Derek Molina was returned to the backfield as tailback, and he responded, ripping off runs of 5, 17, and 54 yards, moving the ball to the 6. 3 runs moved the ball to within one foot of the goal line, and Mt. Ridge used their final timeout. On 4th down, Mendoza plunged into the line on a quarterback sneak. Most of the pile ended up in the end zone, but the officials ruled Mendoza was stopped inches short, and Ridge took over with 1:36 left.
Red Mountain used their final 2 timeouts while Ridge ran quarterback sneaks in an attempt to get some breathing room. The 3rd down carry by Brett Hager was a yard short of the first down, and Ridge had to punt from their own end zone. The punt only reached the MR 33, and Red Mountain still had 33 seconds. A run put the ball at the center of the field, then Mendoza spiked it to stop the clock. Mendoza was then hit as he threw on 3rd down, the ball falling incomplete at the line of scrimmage. Sheley came on for the 50 yard field goal to win it, but the kick was partially deflected and sailed wide left and short. Sheley was hit after the kick and shaken up, not returning to the game. Ridge took a knee to run out the clock and send the game to overtime, tied at 7.
Red Mountain won the toss and elected to play defense first. Yost scrambled for 9 on 1st down. His 2nd down pass was knocked down. On 3rd down, Hager scored up the middle, and the extra point put Ridge up by 7. On Red Mountain's possession, Molina was stuffed for a loss of 2 on 1st down, but on 2nd down, Mendoza hit Molina in the left flat and he took it in for the touchdown. Junior kicker Ryan Falk came on and hit the extra point to send the game into a 2nd overtime.
Red Mountain went first this time. Mendoza's 1st down pass fell incomplete. On 2nd down, he found Julian Madison in the end zone for the score, and Falk kicked it through to give Red Mountain the lead. Mountain Ridge then took the ball. Kirk Mills sacked Yost on first down for a loss of 5, and then Lunsford sacked him on 2nd down for a loss of 3. Yost's pass on 3rd down was incomplete in the end zone. On 4th down, Yost scrambled behind the line as he had done so many times before on this evening. He finally threw the ball, but Craig Frum of Red Mountain knocked the ball away, and the game was over.
Bottom Line: Red Mountain won this game with their defense, chasing Kevin Yost all day and forcing turnovers.
Game Ball: Grayson Willard gets it for Red Mountain, with 33 carries for 146 yards.