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Les WillseyStaff Writer, AIA365.com firstname.lastname@example.org
Red Mountain kicks into gear in 2nd half to beat MesquiteAug 30, 2012
Red Mountain football coach Ron Wisniewski wasn't all that thrilled with his team's first half Thursday night. Mesquite coach Matt Gracey -- very upbeat about it. Even though his team now has twin shutout losses to show for their effort.
Oddly enough it was Red Mountain that led 14 -0 after the the first 24 minutes so those assessments seemed a bit strange. Wisniewski had a brighter opinion when the game ended as his team took control in the second half to knock off visiting Mesquite, 38-0, in a Division I contest.
"We started slow and it didn't seem like there was a great sense of urgency on our part," Wisniewski said. "We were bend-don't break on defense, gave up too many yards the first half and weren't real consistent on offense."
That was the first half. The second half was more what Red Mountain would like its calling card to be as a title contender. With quarterback Mason Thorman warming up significantly in the second half, the Mountain Lions moved the ball at will in the third period and early in the fourth and the defense was more what Wisniewski would like start to finish.
But back to Thorman. The senior quarterback was 7-of-12 in the first half for 119 yards, a touchdown and two picks. The picks came in Mesquite territory and to the Wildcats' crecit, kept them in the game for the better part of 2 1/3 quarters. Thorman was sizzling in the third period completing 11-of-11 throws for 182 yards and another TD. Thorman had no picks and along the way in that period set the school career passing record formerly held by current assistant coach Alan Grantham (oddly enough the brother of current Mesquite athletic director Jason Grantham) in the 1998 and 1999 seasons.
"It was a tough start with the interceptions," Thorman, who finished 19-of-28 for 307 yards, said. "I got settled down and leveled things out after that. The record is nice. Those aren't what I'm playng for. I'm working to get better and play at the next level."
Red Mountain (2-0) took its first two possessions of the second half and put up 10 points. A 35-yard field goal by kicker Max Duran made it 17-0 with 8:59 left in the third. A three-and-out got Red Mountain the ball right back. Thorman hooked up with Drake Pierre on a 64-yard catch and run TD that finally took most of the fight out of Mesquite with 4:07 left.
Red Mountain got an offensive boost in its ground game as running back Colton Plourd chipped in with 82 yards on 10 carries and scored the game's second TD -- a 14-point burst just 1:02 apart that separated the teams on the scoreboard despite the game-effort Mesquite gave.
"Every time something good happens, something bad happens right now," Gracey said. "Our kids played their (tails) off. If you'd see the film last week compared to how we played this week, there's no comparison......."
Some of the good and bad Gracey refereenced happended in each half.
Mesquite (0-2) produced 125 yards of offense in the first half and had a chance late in the second period to cut its 14-0 deficit in half. The Wildcats, jhowever, fumbled inside the Red Mountain 10 and the Mountain Lions Conrad Burnap recovered.
With 7:21 left in the final period quarterback, Mesquite quarterback Payton Haslam threw a 59-yard TD pass to Adam Stewart. The ball tipped off a Red Mountain defender's hands and Stewart grabbed it and took it the final 40 yards or so. An illegal shift penalty, however, nullified the team's first score of the year.
Thirteen seconds later, Red Mountain tipped a pass by Haslam that was picked off and returned by the Lions NIck Beiberdorf for a 23-yard TD.