And the Mesa defense stopped a last-minute Glendale drive at the 18 to preserve the win.
This one was a defensive struggle for most of the afternoon, with big plays accounting for all three of the game's touchdowns. In addition to the two long TD passes by Mesa, the other touchdown of the game came when Glendale's Jason Bonwell blocked a punt into the Olympian end zone, and teammate Mitch Dolfuss recovered the ball for the score. The only prolonged scoring drive of the game was Glendale's 16-play, 76-yd drive that chewed up nearly 7 minutes of the second quarter and ended with a game-tying 21-yd field goal by Evgeniy Mameev.
Glendale had the game's first good scoring opportunity after blocking a punt following Mesa's first possession. A swarm of Vaqueros converged on Mesa punter Bryan Cortney, and the kick never had a chance. Glendale's Robert Elisha picked up the bouncing ball and returned it to the Mesa 18. But that threat ended moments later when Gerardo Rubi fumbled on second and goal and Mesa's Ryan Davies recovered at the 6. And following a 5-yd offside penalty on Glendale and a 4-yd run by Lateef Azziz, Mesa got on the board on an 80-yd pass from Santos to Spain when the speedy receiver got behind the Vaquero defense. Luis Villagomez' extra point made it 7-0 midway through the first quarter.
Mesa extended its lead following another turnover on a fumble by Rubi, which was recovered by Aaron Turner at the Mesa 31. On the very next play, Azziz rambled 35 yards to get the ball deep into Glendale territory. Then the drive stalled, but on came Villagomez to kick a 35-yd field goal to make it 10-0 Mesa late in the first quarter.
In the second quarter, Glendale rallied to tie the game. Once again the Vaquero defense forced a Mesa punt, and once again Glendale blocked the punt. This time it was Jason Bonwell who broke through along the left side of the line and stuffed the kick. The ball landed in the end zone, where Mitch Dolfuss pounced on it, giving Glendale the touchdown. Evginiy Mameev's extra point made it 10-7.
When Mesa got the ball back, Santos scrambled towards the right sideline and found Spain alone behind the defense and got him the ball. However, as Spain sped towards the goal line, he lost control of the ball and it bounced into the end zone where Glendale's T.J. McDonald scooped it up. The result was a touchback for Glendale, and a lengthy scoring drive, the only one of the game, ensued. A personal foul penalty on Mesa helped keep it going, and a 27-yd pass from Kenneth McDaniel to Tim Naillieux got the ball into Olympian territory. Glendale eventually got the ball to the Mesa 4-yard line, but then the drive stalled so on came Mameev to kick a 21-yd field goal to tie the game at 10.
The only score of the second half came on Santos' long pass to Stapleton with just under 5 minutes to go in the third quarter. That came two plays after Glendale's Mameev had attempted a 46-yd field goal, only to have the kick blocked by Mesa's Kyle Greenspan, who picked up the ball and carried it to the Mesa 40. The touchdown would also be the only possession for Mesa in the second half that ended with something other than a punt.
But Glendale had several opportunities to score, only to be turned away time again by the Mesa defense, the Mesa special teams and ultimately the game clock. On their next possession, the Vaqueros drove to the Olympian 22 where they faced a fourth and 4. But McDaniel was stopped for a 1-yd gain on the next play, giving the ball back to Mesa. The next time Glendale got the ball the way down to the Mesa 5 and elected to try a short field goal. But Mameev's kick was wide right, keeping the score 16-10.
The last chance gave Glendale 2:21 to cover 80 yards following a punt by Mesa's Cortney that bounced through the end zone. After a bad beginning – a sack by Curran Commerford and a false start penalty moved Glendale back to the 11 – the Vaqueros got a break when a defensive holding call gave them a first down at the 30. A pair of 9-yd completions by McDaniel to Chris Berroud and Jay Mazal got the ball into Mesa territory, and a 6-yd pass to Phi Le moved the ball to the 32. The Vaqs got a break when McDaniel threw a short pass to Mazal and he fumbled, but the ball went out of bounds before Mesa could recover. Then a 7-yd scramble by McDaniel got the ball to the 18. However, by now there were less than 10 seconds to play and the Vaqueros faced a third down situation.
And on the game's next play, McDaniel went back to pass. He released the ball, but it was deflected by Mesa and went right back to him. At that point, McDaniel did the natural thing and caught the ball. However, he was tackled for just a 1-yd gain, short of the first down, and the Vaqueros were out of timeouts. Since he was stopped short of the first down, the clock did not stop. And as Glendale was unable to get another snap off before the gun sounded, Mesa had the victory.
Statistically, it was a very evenly-played game with Mesa outgaining Glendale in total yards by just a handful at 387 to 368. Santos led the Mesa attack with 248 yards passing on 10 completions out of 20 attempts, with 2 touchdowns, and he did not throw an interception. Spain led Mesa receivers with 3 catches for 135 yards and a score. Azziz rushed for 79 yards on 16 carries to lead Olympian rushers.
For Glendale, McDaniel completed 15 of 28 passes (including the one to himself) for 162 yards. Mazal had an outstanding game with a game-high 6 catches for a team-best 61 yards. Berroud led all rushers with 86 yards on 16 carries, while Justin Tyler added 63 yards on just 9 attempts.
Rushing: G: 2-Berroud 16-86, 4-Tyler 9-63, 12-McDaniel 11-35, 22-Ledford 8-29, 3-Rubi 2-(-7) M: 9-Azziz 16-79, 3-Sayers 6-31, 25-August 3-13, 33-Johnson 2-5, 4-Santos 7-5, 1-Banks 1-6
Passing: G: 12-McDaniel 15-28-1-162 M: 4-Santos 10-20-0-248, 2 TDs
Receiving: G: 46-Mazal 6-61, 24-Naillieux 2-44, 4-Tyler 1-15, 22-Ledford 1-15, 2-Berroud 1-9, 8-Le 1-6, 80-Donnelly 1-6, 14-Sefozo 1-5, 12-McDaniel 1-1 M: 7-Spain 3-135, 6-Stapleton 2-70, 21-Haynes 2-25, 11-Palacio 1-9, 84-Miller 1-5, 10-Nolan 1-4
Punters: G: 24-Naillieux 3-30.7 avg M: 34-Cortney 5-35.8 avg + 2 blocked
Kick Ret: G: 22-Ledford 1-17, 27-Biggers 1-7 M: 2-Walter-White 3-73
Punt Ret: G: 9-Larry 3-38, 60-Elisha 1-13 M: none
Fum Rec: G: 18-McDonald M: 5-Turner, 47-Davies
Int-Ret Yards: G: none M: 19-Carr 1-0
Sacks-Yards: G: 60-Elisha 1-9, 45-Dincher 1-7 M: 97-Commerford 1-4, 59-Moreno 1-2
Missed FG: G: 19-Mameev 46 yards (blk), 22 yards (wr) M: none
Ret of Blk FG: G: none M: 32-Greenspan 1-5
Both teams are now 1-1. Both of Mesa's first-quarter scores followed fumbles by 3-Rubi. 33-Bonwell blocked the punt that 43-Dolfuss recovered for the touchdown. Glendale's FG came after 16-play drive following Spain's fumble into the end zone, which McDonald recovered for the touchback. Glendale had one last chance in the final 2:21 but the drive ended at the Mesa 18 when McDaniel's pass was deflected into the air. He caught the ball for a 1-yd gain but time ran out before they could run another play.