Red Mountain’s 10-game win streak reached a sudden halt Friday night, and in convincing fashion.
The Mountain Lions defense – which had shut down opposing offenses week in and week out during the streak – struggled mightily against the Chandler Wolves’ high-powered offense.
While Lions were able to keep Chandler at bay for the first quarter, holding them to just six points, breakdowns in coverage followed by turnovers on offense ultimately led to the 51-10 blowout loss to the Wolves in the 6A semifinals.
“We thought we had a plan, but Chandler just executed,” said Shaq Daniels, Red Mountain junior defensive back. “That is what it comes down to. I guess Chandler wanted it a little bit more than we did.”
The Mountain Lions defense simply broke down in the second quarter, as the Wolves quickly extended their nine-point lead to 30 by halftime.
Red Mountain focused on stopping the run – Chandler had more than 3,500 yards on the ground for the season – and did just that as the Wolves gained only 74 yards on 22 carries.
It left the secondary exposed and Chandler took advantage.
Junior quarterback Jacob Conover (16 of 24 for 367 yards) and senior receiver Gunner Romney (eight catches, 230 yards) picked the Mountain Lions secondary apart, as the duo connected for five of Conover’s seven touchdowns.
“They just have a lot of weapons,” Mike Peterson, Red Mountain head coach said. “We designated guys to stop the run and they had the weapons to take advantage.”
The Red Mountain pass rush that had been dominant in past weeks couldn’t break free from the Chandler offensive line, giving Conover time to sit in the pocket on numerous occasions.
Prior to the semifinals, Red Mountain’s secondary was a matchup nightmare for opponents.
Led by Daniels (3), the Mountain Lions totaled 18 interceptions on the year and only allowed more than 28 points by opponent’s three times – twice now from Chandler.
Despite the way the Mountain Lions season ended, it was the second consecutive trip to the semifinals for the program that most counted after suffering two early losses.
And while Peterson wished for a different result, he couldn’t help but express his pride for the first team he had as a head coach.
“Through the years all of the teams I coach will become jumbled,” Peterson said. “But this team I will remember for many years because they were my first. They mean a lot.”
– Zach Alvira is a freelancer for MyNewsMesa.com.