Mesa, AZ - 60 Minutes.
Not 15 minutes, 20 minutes or just one half. 60 minutes is the key. That's the theme to this year's Mesa Thunderbird football squad and that's the theme they lived by Saturday night as they defeated the #11 Scottsdale Artichokes, 33-20.
"Proud of our coaches and our kids," said Head Coach Ryan Felker after the win, "It was nice to finally put it together and play for 60 minutes."
After falling to the Artichokes just one month ago at Scottsdale, 38-28, Mesa rebounded and showed that they weren't going to by beat a second time, though the scoreboard at halftime tried to prove different.
Mesa's only points in the first half came from a five yard touchdown run from Terrance Roberts Jr but a missed extra point left the T-Birds with just six points to their name. The Artichokes though had two touchdown drives and two field goals to take the halftime lead at 20-6.
The T-Birds didn't let the score phase them as they came out of the halftime break with a whole new focus and momentum. They rallied around Roberts Jr, who had three rushing touchdowns on the night to go along with a two point conversation catch. It was Roberts Jr who rushed in from 20 yards out to make it a 20-12 game with 6:20 to play in the third quarter.
Then in what seems to be a weekly showcase of speed and beauty, Mesa's punt returner Darius Aguirre showed his magic by taking an Artichoke punt 85 yards to the house to put Mesa within two, 20-18. Christian Lopez was then able to find Roberts Jr out of the backfield on the two point conversion to tie the game at 20.
"We worked hard all week as playing together as a team," said Terrance Roberts Jr, "we trusted our coaches and each other."
With the game tied at 20 in the fourth quarter, it was then Christian Lopez who connected with wideout Carter McCarthy in the back right corner of the endzone to take the lead for the first time, 27-20.
The T-Bird defence played no second fiddle to the strong Mesa offensive attack as they forced the Artichoke offense into bad passes while creating turnovers that led to Mesa points.
Roberts Jr put the exclamation mark on the victory as he dragged Scottsdale defenders into the endzone for a 15 yard touchdown run to finalize the 33-20 win.
"It was a great team win," said Coach Felker, "we made second half adjustments on both sides of the ball and our players in all three phases of the game stepped up."
Mesa moves to 5-3 overall and 3-2 in WSFL play. The T-Birds will travel down to Yuma next weekend for a matchup with the #2 Arizona Western Matadors, a 1 pm kickoff, then they will finish the season at home against the Pima Aztecs November 11th.