Originally Published: September 17, 2016 5:55 a.m.
PHOENIX – Collin Mills had over 150 yards rushing and three touchdowns, but none more important than his 5-yard go-ahead score with 25 seconds remaining for the Prescott football team, which overcame a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter to claim a 32-29 road victory over Moon Valley on Friday night.
Trailing 29-19 with 5:58 to play, Prescott quarterback Ryan Greene found wideout Jake Gathman on a 25-yard touchdown pass to pull the Badgers within four, 29-25.
After a mysterious fake punt by Moon Valley on the ensuing possession, Prescott took over and marched down the field.
The Badgers converted on a fourth-and-14 at the 1:29 mark in the fourth quarter when Greene lofted the ball to Aaron Marquardt, who out-jumped his defender to give Prescott a first-and-10 on Moon Valley’s 15-yard line.
Two plays later, Mills crashed across the goal line to give the Badgers the lead for good.
“It’s difficult to put into words how proud I have of these guys. I made a couple of stupid mistakes, and I almost took it away from the boys,” first-year Prescott head coach Michael Gilpin said. “I’m so proud, they have so much character. … It’s just a great victory, they never quit. They never give up.”
After last week’s devastating 23-3 loss to Cactus Shadows when Gilpin said he was “out-coached” and “out-prepared,” he predicted in the locker room Mills would have a big night Friday.
“I told him, ‘Collin, you’re going for 200 [yards] tonight.’ And I bet he came pretty close,” Gilpin said on the field after the game. “Our offensive line is so underrated, but those guys grind. … The big boys opened holes and Collin went with them.”
In the first half, Mills put the Badgers on the board first with a 19-yard touchdown run at the 6:42 mark in the first quarter. Mills’ touchdown run was set up by Marquardt’s blocked punt after Moon Valley’s first possession.
To begin the second quarter, Lio Teutupe’s 7-yard touchdown run gave the Rockets a temporary 7-6 lead, but Prescott responded on a 13-yard touchdown scamper by Mills with 7:51 to play in the first half, taking a 12-7 lead.
On the ensuing possession, a David Pearce blitz produced a sack and forced fumble by Moon Valley quarterback Nathan Pollard, giving Prescott the ball inside the Rockets’ own 20.
Pearce followed up his defensive play with a 6-yard touchdown run, making it a 19-7 Prescott lead with 7:08 remaining in the second quarter.
Before halftime, Moon Valley capped a 27-point second quarter by both offenses when Pollard found Randy Grivel on a 55-yard touchdown pass, cutting into Prescott’s lead and making it a 19-14 game.
Teutupe rushed for his second touchdown on a 1-yard run with 2:36 to go in the third quarter, giving Moon Valley a 22-19 lead.
With 0:32 left in the third, Pollard found Timothy Knight on a 30-yard strike, giving Moon Valley a 29-19 lead they would fail to hold on to.
Prescott (2-2, 0-0 4A Grand Canyon) returns home to host Lee Williams in the Grand Canyon region opener Friday, Sept. 23. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
Moon Valley (2-2, 0-0 4A West Valley) will host Cactus Shadows, which is coming off a 41-21 loss to Cactus on Friday night. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
Brian M. Bergner Jr. is a sports writer and columnist for The Daily Courier. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram, Periscope and SoundCloud at @SportsWriter52, or on Facebook at @SportsAboveTheFold. Reach him by phone at 928-445-3333, ext. 1106.