The Red Mountain defense did it all on Thursday night, cooking the food, setting the table and digging in to feast on Dobson.
The Mountain Lions defense racked up 20 points of its own on three interception returns for touchdowns and a safety and held the Mustangs to 0 yards passing in a 54-7 win at Red Mountain in the opener of region play.
“I’m a defensive guy, so we’ve got the defense going,” said Red Mountain coach Mike Peterson, whose team intercepted a total of four passes on the night.
“If I knew any offense, I could help them more,” Peterson added, tongue firmly in cheek. “The offense came out great in the second half and came out hitting on some cylinders.”
In the first quarter, the Lions ran just five plays in their own territory thanks to the defense shutting down the Dobson run game. The offense struck first with an 11-yard run by Alejandro Lujan with 3:16 left in the first quarter.
Then it was time for the defense to take over.
A holding call put the Mustangs on their own 11. Then, Red Mountain’s Gabe Williams leapt up to snag a screen pass by Dobson quarterback Nicolas Saro at the 5-yard line. One step and a dive later, Williams had six points.
“He almost had one in the beginning of the game and we were giving him crap, saying he can’t catch,” said defensive back Zach Molina, who would factor into the defensive explosion. “So the next drive, he picks one off and takes it to the house.”
Just one Dobson offensive play later, Molina got his hands on a Saro pass after it was tipped by linebacker Joey Sanchez. Molina was clear sailing from 25 yards away and Red Mountain was rolling.
“I felt like we had a good idea of what they were going to do,” Molina said. “They like that screen and we saw it a lot in practice. Joey made a good break on the ball and tipped it and I picked it off.”
While the Red Mountain defense was rolling, the offense was hurt by penalties and turnovers in the first half. Ty McElroy lost a fumble on the Dobson 11-yard line in the first quarter and Cannon Griner threw an interception to Dobson’s Jared Haggard in the end zone in the second quarter.
A Riley Pagel punt pinned Dobson deep in its own territory with 7 minutes left in the first half. Three plays later, Shaq Daniels stepped in front of a Michael Gundersdorf pass and went 15 yards for the score. On the next drive, Molina collected his second interception and returned the ball to the Dobson 7-yard line.
“Our defensive backs coach, Coach Enders, had a talk with our DBs and challenged us to get the ball,” Molina said. “He said that against Gilbert. We got four picks against Gilbert and four more tonight, so after he challenged us, we accepted the challenge and that’s how it’s going to be the rest of the year.”
The second half saw the offenses dominate early, with Dobson driving 90 yards on the first possession of the second half. The big plays came from Advonne Wilson on two fly sweeps for 37 yards and the drive was capped by a 1-yard sneak by Saro.
Red Mountain countered on its next drive with a big plays from Lorenzo Bowers (a 22-yard reception from Griner) and McElroy (46- and 9-yard runs), before Nick Scow dove in from the 2-yard line to make the score 38-7.
The final defensive points came on Dobson’s next possession, courtesy of defensive end Alexander Randle, who broke free up the middle and sacked Saro in the end zone.
“I think this performance is huge for our defense,” said Molina. “We know we have the players and the talent to stop the pass against any team in the state, for everybody to have a game like this is a good confidence builder, but we know we have to come in tomorrow and get back to work.”
For the game, McElroy was the offensive star, carrying the ball nine times for 130 yards and a touchdown. Quarterbacks Griner (9-of-14 for 137 yards) and Garret Strehl (4-of-6 for 29 yards) were efficient and avoided costly mistakes.
Dobson (3-3, 0-1 in region) will return home on Oct. 6 to take on Westwood. Red Mountain now 4-2 and winners of four straight games, takes on Brown Road rival Mountain View next week at Mountain View.
– Steve Burks is a freelancer writer for MyNewsMesa.com.
Dobson 0 0 7 0-7
Red Mtn 21 10 16 7-54
RM – Lujan 11 run (Huffman kick)
RM – Williams 5 interception return (Huffman kick)
RM – Molina 25 interception return (Huffman kick)
RM – Daniels 15 interception return (Huffman kick)
RM – Huffman 28 FG
DHS – Saro 1 run (Hernandez kick)
RM – Scow 2 run (Huffman kick)
RM – Safety, Randle tackled Saro in end zone
RM – McElroy 26 run (Huffman kick)
RM – Fauble 12 run (Huffman kick)
Dobson Red Mtn.
First Downs 13 12
Rush-yards 49-159 24-202
Com-Att-Int 0-11-4 13-20-1
Pass yards 0 166
Total yards 159 368
Fumbles/lost 0/0 2/1
Penalties-Yards 4-3 5-50
Punts-Avg. 5-27.0 3-41.7
Dobson – Advonne Willson 4-51, Jared Haggard 13-27, Damian Duarte 6-24, Richie Langwell 5-15, Drew Meneses 4-15, Pierre McNeal 3-15, Jack Kandaris 3-10, Michael Gundersdorf 7-4, Hassiel Beltran 2-2, Nicolas Saro 2-(-4). Red Mountain – Ty McElroy 9-130, Alejandro Lujan 5-30, Brandon Fauble 3-17, Jarquell Garner 3-9, Gerald Wilbon 1-8, Garret Strehl 2-6, Nick Scow 1-2.
Dobson – Gundersdorf 0-8-0-0-2, Saro 0-3-0-0-2. Red Mountain – Cannon Griner 9-14-137-0-1, Garret Strehl 4-6-29-0-0.
Red Mountain – Lorenzo Bowers 5-66, Lance Lawson 2-52, Carter Wheat 1-16, Austin Lindquist 1-12, Blake Fitch 1-9, Ryan Skabelund 1-5, Nick Scow 1-3, Joey Sanchez 1-3.