Mistakes were numerous and costly as Mingus Union High School’s football team could not get out of its own way in a 21-20 loss to visiting Cactus Shadows High School on Friday, Sept. 1.
Five turnovers and 10 penalty flags for 112 yards kept the Marauders [0-2] from creating any momentum. The extra point try after their third score hit the left upright, and junior quarterback Antoine Zabala fumbled at the one yard line with 12 seconds left.
“Too many mistakes. Fumbles lose games. Punt blocks lose games, missed extra points, those are things good teams don’t do,” Marauders head coach Bob Young said. “And we’re not very good because we screwed them all up tonight.”
With about four minutes left, the Falcons [2-0] were faced with a fourth and one at Mingus’ 36 yard line. But they got a free set of downs when the Marauders went offside.
Two plays later Falcons senior quarterback Andrew Young raced 36 yards to put his team ahead 21-20.
“Defense did fine, I was disappointed they let them score at the end. We could have stuffed them and won the game,” Bob Young said. “The defense played well enough for us to win.”
Nonetheless Mingus had a chance to win. On the Falcons’ 20 yard line with just over a minute left, Zabala was sacked for a loss of 10, but then found senior running back Tyler Kelly to make it fourth and nine.
After a timeout junior receiver Chaz Taylor secured a first down. Less than 30 seconds were left.
Zabala took the next snap and rolled right, hesitated a throw towards the end zone but tried to keep it. A tackle from behind jarred the ball loose on the one-yard line, recovered by the Falcons, ending the game.
“We had our best offensive practice the whole entire season yesterday and we just came out and didn’t even show it at all,” Kelly said. “So honestly offense we blew it, I blew it, we all did .... that should have been our game easily.”
Mistakes happened at the beginning, too.
Cactus Shadows’ first touchdown came on a 29-yard blocked punt return with 3:30 left in the opening quarter.
Marauders junior running back Alex Nelson fumbled after a nice gain on the ensuing possession.Young carried into the end zone himself from two yards out to open a 14-0 lead.
Despite the turnovers and flags, Mingus never let the game get away.
Junior wide receiver Chaz Taylor drew a pass interference on third and long to prevent the next drive from stalling.
From there the Marauders kept it on the ground, and on the eighth run play Kelly scampered 26 yards to score.
Cactus Shadows mostly tried running the ball, many times up the middle, with sophomore Jaxen Schneider and senior Dylan Kelleher, but the Mingus defense began to sniff them out.
Nelson forced a turnover on downs with a sack, but then Kelly coughed it up less than a minute later.
On the next drive Nelson broke off a run from deep in his own territory to inside the Falcons’ 30, only to be called back for an illegal block.
The Marauders had a number of good runs throughout, a sign of improvement from the line that struggled against Higley High School in the opening week.
“We ran the ball really well, they must have done something right we ran the ball up and down the field, just didn’t hold on to it when we needed to,” Bob Young said.
Zabala’s only incompletion was an interception to end that drive less than a minute before halftime, a jump ball between Kelly and Schneider.
Mingus was set to have another shot at tying the game when it received the second half kickoff. But Kelly fumbled again, the Marauders’ fourth turnover.
Possession was recovered on a fourth-down sack by a sophomore lineman Claye Griffin, and this time Mingus made the most of it.
On fourth down, Taylor stretched for a touchdown to cap a 14-play, 62-yard drive that ate up more than six minutes. And even that drive was not flawless.
Zabala fumbled but recovered and Taylor, lined up wide on the left sideline, was flagged for a false start that threatened to kill the drive on the Falcons’ seven yard line.
After failing to score from inside the Falcons’ 10 at the start of the fourth, a trick play propelled the Marauders to take the lead.
Zabala handed off to Kelly, already in motion from left to right, who threw to senior Kendrew Streck. Streck was downed at the Falcons’ nine, and a flag was thrown, immediately sending the Marauders faithful, sideline and even PA announcer into a heavy groan.
They were happy to learn it was against the Falcons, and on the next play Kelly scored. Again moving left to right he took the handoff, trucked Schneider, and found the end zone.
Zabala was 11 for 12 with 132 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Nelson led all rushers with 109 yards on 10 carries, and Taylor led all receivers with four catches for 50 yards and a score.
Streck had 13 tackles to lead a defense that earned four sacks. Senior safety Jordan Huey intercepted on Cactus Shadows’ first drive, Mingus’ only takeaway.
Mingus next plays at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 8, at Cactus High School.