The Mustangs righted the ship after a rocky two weeks with a return to the win column, courtesy of Friday night's 49-0 victory over the Santa Rita Eagles.
The lopsided win was a big boost, returning smiles to the Mustangs' faces and giving many of the younger players the opportunity to get valuable playing experience. The game was never really a contest as Sahuarita scored early and often.
“We came out early and fast and we played much better football tonight,” Coach Rodney Day said. “It was team football and we looked much better as team.”
The opening drive set the tone when junior quarterback Colin Fanning connected with sophomore wide receiver Bryce Williams on a 10-yard pass play. PAT was good, 7-0 at 9:50 of the first quarter.
Santa Rita’s first drive ended with a fumble at the Mustang 31-yard line. Two runs by workhorse running back Michael Molio’o moved the ball to the Eagle’s 18. Fanning dashed to the seven-yard line and then tossed a scoring pass to senior wide receiver Emilio Marquez with 4:22 remaining. 14-0 with successful PAT.
Mustang scoring was indeed early and often as they padded their advantage to 21-0, two minutes and seventeen seconds later. This score was added by senior Daniel Valdez from 20 yards out.
Santa Rita’s next drive ended when strong safety Austin Smith, a senior, picked off an Eagle pass at the 1:12 mark.
The second quarter began much like the first as the Mustangs turned the interception into points early, this time on a nine-yard run by Fanning; 28-0 with 10:28 left in the second period.
Following a Mustang fumble, Santa Rita mounted what appeared to be an assault on the SHS goal line, getting as close as the 13-yard line. Marquez ended the threat when he picked off the Eagle pass in the end-zone, setting the Mustangs up a their own 20-yard line. After moving steadily down the field, a pass and catch, Fanning to Valdez covered 50 yards and stretched the lead to 35-0 with seven and half minutes left in the first half.
On the final Mustang possession of the half, Fanning stretched the Eagles defense as he swept to the right, pitching the ball at the last moment to Valdez, who won the foot race to the end-zone for the 42-0 halftime score.
Given to the comfortable lead, Day started using younger players early in the second half. "We've got a lot of good freshmen coming up through the program. We got a lot of them good reps tonight and that is great. That’s good for them. They get experience and get to play a little varsity football. Hopefully they learned a lot tonight. That’s the main thing.”
As they had in the three previous quarters, the Mustangs took their first possession into the end-zone for what would be the final score of the game, again with the sophomore Molio’o capping the scoring 49-0.
Before handing his part of the rushing attack over to the younger players, Molio’o accounted for 120 of the Mustangs' total 300 rushing yards on 14 carries with two touchdowns. Valdez rushed for two touchdowns as well as amassing 32 yards on four carries. Fanning carried four times for 32 yards and a touchdown, in addition to passing eight of 10 for 126 yards and two touchdowns; one each to Williams and Valdez. Williams caught three for 34 yards and Valdez three for 62. Marquez had one catch for 24 and Frankie Maynes another for six yards.
Others with yards rushing were: Williams, five for 44 yards, Tristin Waring, three for 32; Marquez one for 15; Jacob Terrill one for 13 and Orlando Williams one for four.
Friday the 3-6 Mustangs will host Catalina, 5-4, on a night to celebrate the seniors.
"We should have a good matchup," Day said.