Mesa, AZ - Nothing comes easy in the game of football and to have success, teams must persevere, overcome and unite. That is what the Mesa Thunderbirds football team did this season as they have seen their own high's and low's but right now, the T-Birds have their sites set on winning another Valley of the Sun Bowl.
With a 49-17 victory over the Pima Aztecs Saturday night, and a helpful loss by the Scottsdale Artichokes to the Arizona Western Matadors earlier in the day, Mesa solidified a second straight Valley of the Sun Bowl appearance.
The T-Bird leaders stepped up when it counted most tonight, as Terrance Roberts Jr. and Sonnie Richardson each scored two touchdowns for the T-Birds while quarterback Christian Lopez slung five touchdown passes to four different receivers.
Mesa jumped out quickly and often, scoring 42 first half points with the first coming on a 62 yard Terrnace Roberts Jr. run up the middle to give Mesa the 7-0 lead. The next possession, it was Richardson who hauled in a Lopez pass in the corner of the endzone to make it a 14-0 game.
Then it was the bruising running back Tyrek Cross who pounded his way into the endzone with three minutes to play in the first quarter to make it a 21-0 game. With ten seconds left in the first quarter, Deyton Jackson caught a three yard slant pass to push the Mesa lead to 28-0.
In the second quarter, it was Richardson again that made a sweet one handed grab along the chalk line of the endzone to make it a 35-0 game. To finish off the scoring in the half, it was Lopez who scrambled to his right and threw up a jump ball which was grabbed by Bryce Washington, his first catch of the season.
Lopez would connect with wideout Carter McCarthy for Mesa's final points of the game in the third quarter, with the defense doing a nice job to close out the victory.
Aaron Aros made all seven of his extra points with excellent holding from punter Ryan "Slim" Grimm.
Mesa finishes the season with a 6-4 overall record and 4-3 WSFL record. They went 3-2 both at home and away and averaged 37 points a game.
The T-Birds will now prepare to play in the Valley of the Sun Bowl which will be played at John D. Riggs Stadium on December 2nd. An opposing team has yet to be decided but a decision will be made by early next week.
Mesa won the Valley of the Sun Bowl last season in double-overtime against Lackawanna College, 48-42, on an incredible game winning catch by Darius Aguirre.