After a heavy loss at homecoming the Friday prior, Mingus Union High School’s football team bounced back in a big way, powering its way to a 38-6 win at Prescott High School on Friday, Oct. 6.
The Marauders [3-4, 3-1] defense held the Badgers in check and out of the end zone throughout, save for a handful of big plays. Mingus dominated the battle in the trenches in the second half as well.
“Outstanding. I mean our defense set the tone. Coach Dixon came up with a great game plan, because I mean that running back, he broke a school record and we knew we had to contain him and the defensive coaches came up with a great game plan and the defense just pulled it out,” Marauders head coach Bob Young said.
The Marauders racked up 538 yards on the ground, with senior Tyler Kelly netting 240 on 24 carries and junior Alex Nelson 215 on 23. The Badgers ran for 46 yards.
More than just executing on the field, Young said it was about the way they challenged their own sense of pride.
“I think the guys finding some pride about themselves, I think they were embarrassed last week. It was as bad as we’ve played in long time and I think they took it to heart,” Young said. “They could have tucked tail and they decided they wanted to work hard and get better and we had a good week of practice.”
Prescott went up 3-0 on the first possession of the game. On the other hand, Mingus senior Martin Soria coughed the ball up on the Marauders’ first drive, but their defense forced a three and out.
Soria made up for it, picking off Badgers junior quarterback Austin Clark at midfield. Soria’s back-and-forth tug of war with turnovers was not over yet, either.
Mingus drove the ball the length of the field in nine plays, with Kelly ultimately running it in from three yards out. Along the way, junior quarterback Antoine Zabala kept it for a first down on fourth and one to keep the drive alive.
The two-point conversion try failed, but the Marauders would never give up the lead.
Prescott was forced to punt after three plays once again, and Mingus doubled its lead when it was about to be forced into punting, as well.
Nelson broke off a huge run to start the series, tackled at the Prescott 25 yard line. With a penalty on the Marauders and a tackle for loss later, they were faced with a third and 23.
Kelly slipped out wide from the backfield, and Zabala hit him with a pass for a 38-yard touchdown, and the visitors led 12-3 with 4:19 left in the half.
The defense continued to stymie the Badgers; Soria forced a fumble on Prescott’s third play of the drive.
Mingus ran a few plays in the wildcat offense with Kelly at quarterback in the first half, including on the ensuing drive. Despite gaining four first downs, the Marauders could not score before halftime, a pass intended for Nelson falling incomplete.
In the second half the Marauders defense continued to slow its opponents, and the linemen began to dominate at the line of scrimmage.
Mingus received the second-half kickoff and kept the ball on the ground every single play, with Soria taking a pitch from eight yards out to increase the lead to 18-3. The nine-play drive ate up almost half of the quarter, too.
“We throw the ball but we want to establish the run especially when we had the lead we wanted to milk the clock as much as we could and we made a couple of adjustments on the line and we were just able to capitalize,” Young said. “We just had great blocking, which I mean last week we struggled with.”
Prescott’s two run attempts to open its possession were stopped at the line of scrimmage, and the Mingus defense forced a third three and out.
The Badgers responded by stopping the Marauders, and then began to throw the ball with success.
22- and 31-yard passes to senior receiver John Chaffeur fueled a quick drive that only resulted in a field goal, cutting the deficit to 18-6. It would be the last time the hosts score.
Once again Mingus was driving, and Soria uncanned a big play, but fumbled while being tackled.
Prescott would have likely scored when Chaffeur was wide open on a miscommunication in the Marauders’ secondary, but Clark overthrew the ball.
Nelson capped a five-play drive that carried into the start of the fourth quarter with a 35-yard scoring run, and the point after was good to make it 25-6.
Prescott turned it over on downs, and the Marauders were not done pounding the ball. Nelson scored almost untouched from five yards out on the ensuing drive to put the game away at 31-6.
Three straight Badgers incompletions later, and Mingus had the ball deep in its own territory. Then Kelly scampered 86 yards down the left sideline to make it 38-6, capping a dominating response to the team’s deflating homecoming loss the week prior.
“We promised the line that if they did their job then we’re going to do our job. Our backs are going to run hard and all they’ve got to do is keep their block for not even that long and they did their job and that’s what happened,” Nelson said.
Senior defensive back Marcos Valenzuela later grabbed an interception as well.
The team hosts its rival Flagstaff High School at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 13.