Originally Published: September 15, 2017 11:32 p.m.
It’s been five years since Bradshaw Mountain’s football team lost four straight games, but that streak would come to an abrupt end Friday night in Tempe.
On Homecoming at Marcos de Niza, the Padres edged the Bears, 16-11, keeping Bradshaw Mountain winless at 0-4. The Bears last lost four in a row in 2012, when they finished the campaign on a five-game slide.
“It was a tight one,” said first-year Bradshaw Mountain coach Chuck Moller, who has a green squad this fall. “But a lot of good things happened.”
Marcos de Niza of the Desert Sky region, which nipped Prescott, 15-14, in Week 1, evened its record at 2-2 to snap a two-game skid.
In a 4A Week 4 clash, the Bears changed up their defense to a 4-4 scheme with four down linemen, which worked well. During the second half, Bradshaw Mountain forced three punts and took over on downs once. Moller credited linemen Hunter Rowe and Connor Scott for their contributions.
“We made a wholesale change on defense, and mainly it was personnel that forced us to go to a four-front, a pressure front,” Moller said. “We mixed it back and forth. I’m pleased with the defense.”
On offense, star senior quarterback Tim Young started at linebacker after missing the past game-and-a-half due to injury. Moller said Young is healthy now. Austin Gonzalez earned his second consecutive start in place of Young at QB, although both saw time under center.
“Gonzo’s throwing the ball well, and we love to have Gonzo run,” Moller said. “At best, the both of them [Young and Gonzalez] are four-game QBs with no snaps before this year.”
Prior to Friday’s game, Moller said Bradshaw Mountain’s offense couldn’t afford dropped balls and turnovers, two things that have haunted the squad during the first three weeks of the season. The Bears performed better in those areas against Marcos.
“It was a good battle all the way to the end,” Moller said. “I’m not disappointed in anything.”
Bradshaw Mountain committed only one turnover, an interception by Gonzalez, and they limited their penalties. Gonzalez completed 9 of 18 passes for 139 yards. Young was 2 for 4 with 12 yards and a TD. Wideout Devon Olson registered six receptions for 65 yards and a TD. Bryan Price hauled in three balls for 47 yards.
Senior quarterback Marcos Moreno paced the Padres, completing 9 of 15 passes for 85 yards, while rushing 13 times for 52 yards and a TD. Marcos de Niza sophomore tailback Yakeem Bayless had 17 carries for 120 yards rushing.
Bradshaw Mountain trailed 16-8 at halftime and its defense held its ground in the third quarter. Bears kicker Brandon Fischer pulled the Bears within five of a tie, 16-11, with a 34-yard field goal as the clock wound down to the final minute of the third.
“I’m very pleased with the kicking game — punts, kickoffs and field goals,” Moller said.
Later, inside of 7 minutes left in regulation, Bradshaw Mountain had a golden opportunity to take the lead. Gonzalez guided the Bears on a nice drive, taking them from their own 19 to the Marcos 33. After an illegal procedure penalty, Gonzalez ran to the Padres’ 29. But on 4th and 1, tailback Victor Arenas was stopped for no gain.
The Bears used their final two timeouts in an effort to stop Marcos on its ensuing possession. However, tailback Alex Torres converted a big first down and the Padres were able to run out the clock in the final minute.
“We will continue to build,” Moller said. “Our kids were down when they lost, but they fought hard. The wins are going to come.”
Bradshaw Mountain opens the Grand Canyon region portion of its schedule at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 22, when the Bears host Flagstaff for Homecoming at Bob Pavlich Field in Prescott Valley.
Marcos de Niza visits Casa Grande at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 22, for its Desert Sky region opener.