Yuma, AZ - The Mesa Thunderbirds defeated the #9 Arizona Western Matadors, 28-25, in a huge upset in a Western States Football League contest Saturday night.
For the T-Birds, this was its first victory over the Matadors since the 2007 season.
Mesa began the scoring in the first quarter, with Terrance Roberts Jr scoring from one yard out, giving Mesa a 7-0 lead. With four minutes left in the first quarter, the Matadors tied the score at seven on a rushing touchdown of their own.
The T-Birds then turned to Roberts Jr again as he scored from four yards out with 8:19 to play in the half, putting Mesa up 14-7. That would be the score heading into halftime.
Western was able to convert a field goal to begin the third quarter to make it a 14-10 game. On the ensuing kickoff, the Matadors tried a bit of trickery by trying an onside kick. It backfired for the home team as Mesa scooped up the kick and returned it to the Matador 32 yard line, prime scoring position for Mesa.
On second down of the possession, Mesa's quarterback, Thomas MacVittie, rolled to his right and found a wide open Trevor Russell in the front of the endzone for a 32 yard touchdown reception. The score pushed Mesa's lead to 21-10 with 7:57 to play in the third quarter.
The Matadors answered right back on its next possession, punching in a one yard touchdown run to make it 21-17.
In the fourth quarter, Mesa's defense made what may have been the deciding play of the night. Matador quarterback, Logan Byrd, fired a pass over the middle that was deflected into the air and intercepted by safety Treylann Sanders and returned to the house for a 27 yard touchdown, pushing the T-Birds lead to 28-17, with just 3:34 to play in the fourth quarter.
Arizona Western however scored on its next possession and converted the two-point conversion to make it a 28-25 game with 1:18 remaining. The Matadors were in a must on-side kick situation at that point but it was Tylon Patterson who recovered the onside kick for Mesa. Though the Matadors had two remaining timeouts, Terrance Roberts Jr sealed the victory with three straight rushing plays, the last going for a first down, helping the clock run down to zero.
It wasn't the prettiest of victories for the T-Birds but it sure was one of the grittiest. Mesa took advantage of Matador miscues and turned them into points.
The T-Birds move to 3-1 on the season and 1-0 in WSFL play. Mesa will play at home next Saturday against the Eastern Arizona Gila Monsters at John D. Riggs Stadium at 7 pm.