Friday night’s 57-14 Pima Roughriders pounding of Scottsdale Prep moved the No. 7 Riders into the State 2A football quarterfinals to face the No. 2 Arizona Lutheran Coyotes on the Coyotes’ homefield next Friday at 7 p.m.
Pounding? Well, yes. The Spartans had no answer for the Roughriders “ground and pound” offensive onslaught.
Pima could also move the ball through the air, but why when they could move the ball so easily on the ground against Scottsdale?
The Spartans could not handle, nor slow down, the heavy doses of Roughrider running backs Brody Brown, Hayden Blair, Wyatt Wiltbank, nor the keepers by quarterback Seth Russell. They could eventually stop the aforementioned Pima ball carriers, but it was never on first contact or without the Riders runners picking up additional yards after that contact.
On their first series it seemed the Spartans had come to play ball, a pair of passes from Tyler Johnson to Devon Strader moved the Scottsdale from their own 35-yard line to the Pima 18-yard line. The Spartans next pair of passes failed connect and they turned the ball over to the Roughriders at that point.
On the Riders’ first play of the game, Blair gained 14 yards, next Brown added 15 yards. The remainder of the first drive showed the Spartans and the fans on hand what they were in store for as runs by Brown, Russell, Blair and Wiltbank chewed up ground and the clock as Brown scored from two-yards out, with 4:32 left in the first quarter. 7-0 with PAT by Grant Ashby.
Starting again at their own 35-yard line, it seemed that the Spartans had an answer for the Roughriders TD. Scottsdale watched a 65-yard catch and run for a touchdown wiped out. Wiped clean with a yellow flag that removed the score and move them back to their 21. They did back get to the Pima 48-yard line where they decided to air it out once again, but Ashby intercepted the Spartans’ offering and returned the ball to the Scottsdale 26-yard line.
Brown picked up six yards and then took his next carry into the end zone, breaking tackles and weaving his way through Spartan defenders. Being on both ends of the possession, Ashby added the PAT 14-0.
Scottsdale did cut the lead in half to 14-7.
Pima’s Russell moved the ball from the Pima 25-yard line, with a nifty quarterback keeper that moved the ball to the Spartan 9-yard line. Brown again found the Spartan end zone and Ashby split the uprights. 21-7 11:12 into the second period.
Scottsdale got as close as the Riders’ 27-yard line and attempted yet another pass and this led to another Ashby interception.
Starting deep in their own end of the field, runs by Brown and Wiltbank moved the Riders out to their 29-yard line.
Ashby finally got to catch a pass from somebody wearing the same uniform as him and moved the ball 36 yards to the Spartan 35.
Another heavy dosage of Brown, Russell and Blair found Pima at the Scottsdale 10-yard line. Brown dove in and Ashby converted, 28-7, 6:02 left in the first half.
The Spartans were able to answer with touchdown of their own, this one coming at the 3:14 mark, 28-14.
The Roughriders opened the second half still riding the horses that had carried them in the first half, covering 60 yards with Wiltbank making it 35-14 from 10 yards out and Ashby adding PAT.
Having no success running against the Pima D, Scottsdale again opted to try the aerial assault once again, with no better luck this time. Sophomore linebacker Tuddy Smart claimed this pass and set Pima up at the Spartan 45-yard line.
Blair ripped his way through the Scottsdale defenders for 39 yards to the 8; Wiltbank picked up the needed yards. After a penalty Pima was forced to attempt the PAT from further back. No problem, a pass connecting Ashby and Leland Thompson gave Pima the two-point conversion. 43-14.
Just when it seemed things couldn’t get any worse for the Spartans, things did.
On the first play of their next possession the ball came squirting out and Justin James cam squirting out of the pile-up with the ball raised over his head. The Roughriders turned the turnover into more points when Brown, Blair, Wiltbank and Russell (with Clark Ashby added) moved the ball to 60 yards to the Spartan 5-yard line. Blair picked up the five-yards needed and Ashby add the PAT, 50-14 to end quarter number three.
As the final period took wings and seemed to fly by, younger and younger Riders found their way onto the field.
Scottsdale Prep had no better luck in the fourth quarter. In fact, yet another late fumble set Pima up at the Spartan 35.
It was now time for the Roughrider freshmen to lead the charge and shine.
Freshman Rhett Hughes handed the ball off to freshman Aiden Espinoza three times and three times Espinoza edged closer to the Spartan end zone. With 56 seconds left in the game, he dove in from three yards out, Ashby again adding the PAT. Final Score 57-14.
Following the game coach Jim Hughes told the team, “This was a great win, a great effort, and a great rebound from last week.” That being the 33-19 loss to region 2A San Pedro rival Morenci.
Pima now sits at 6-3 overall and 6-1 against 2A Conference rivals.
Arizona Lutheran is now 9-1 overall and 8-1 in conference.
The two teams have only faced one common opponent, that being Scottsdale Christian. Arizona Lutheran won 33-18 on their first game of the season. Pima won 53-0 on September 24.