MESA, AZ - If any one play can be said to have been the turning point in a 31-7 game, Mesa had one of the most unusual in years in its WSFL consolation playoff semi-final win over New Mexico Military Saturday afternoon at John D. Riggs Stadium.
The sequence of events that led up to the play, which occurred early in the second half, actually began late in the first 30 minutes.
Quarterback Austin Apodaca (So., Longmont, Colo/Silver Creek H.S.) was injured on MCC's last possession of the half.
With his team clinging to a 10-7 halftime lead, Apodaca gamely tried to go in the second 30 minutes. However, after being decked twice more on his team's first two series, Apodaca was done for the day.
Enter backup QB Brennen Dobson (Fr., Mesa, AZ/Red Mountain H.S.). On his second series Dobson had his helmet ripped of and, by rule, was forced to sit out a play.
MCC head coach Ryan Felker elected to use wide receiver Joshua Aganon (Fr., Scottsdale, AZ./Chaparral H.S.) to take the snap. After all, it was just one play.
One play was all Aganon needed as he raced 60 yards up the middle for the score that gave the T-Birds a little breathing room, 17-7,
Dobson then re-enteted and produced his best football of the year. With Mesa seemingly energized by Aganon's run, Dobson directed MCC to two more scores, going 6-10 for 66 yards and a TD pass.
The win lifted Mesa's record to 4-5 and puts the Thunderbirds in the consolation final Saturday at home against Pima which upset Eastern Arizona, 21-20, in two overtimes.
Mesa got off to a quick start, taking advantage of a poor Broncos' punt at the NMMI 35 and scoring four plays later on a 22-yard strike from Apodaca to Dusty Cook (Fr., Gilbert, AZ/Highland H.S.).
New Mexico countered with a 75-yard drive capped by a 28-yard score on a pass from Daniel Fereti to Guy Lemonier at the 5:57 mark of the first quarter.
That, however, was about all the MCC defense would surrender. The T-Birds picked off three passes, recovered a fumble and stopped NMMI after a first and goal situation at the Thunderbird one when Jamorien Hill (Fr., Tuscaloosa, Ala/IMG Academy) snagged his first of two interceptions on the day.
Austin Carver (Fr., Gilbert, AZ/Gilbert H.S.) kicked a 23-yard field goal with 9:20 to play in the half to put MCC on top to stay and provided the 10-7 halftime lead.
The T-Birds drove 45 yards at the beginning of the fourth quarter with Kashwell Robinson (So., Scottsdale, AZ.Saguaro H.S.) running it in from 14 yards out to run the score to 24-7.
Dobson then completed an 85-yard march with an 11-yard touchdown pass to Dionte Sykes (Fr., Chandler, AZ/Chandler H.S.) to complete the scoring.
Robinson paced MCC on the ground with 86 yards on 14 carries while Dewitt Caswell (Fr., Riverside, Calif/Martin Luther King H.S.) gained 58 on 11 attempts, And, of course, Aganon gained 60 on his only rush of the year.
Chett Levay (Fr., Tamap, Fla/Sickles H.S.) caught four passes for 75 yards and Sikes hauled in five for 68.
Other WSFL scores:
Pima 21, Eastern Arizona 20 2OT
Scottsdale 43, Snow 42
Arizona Western 20, Glendale 7