The Minarets Mustangs (2-5, 1-1) played spoiler last week as they defeated the Riverdale Cowboys (1-6, 0-1) 25-23 on Riverdale's home coming Oct. 18. For the Mustangs, it was the team's third win in school history, second win of the season and first win in West Sequoia League play.
The teams traded possessions into the second quarter without scoring, when with 6:40 left in the second quarter, Mustang junior lineman "Big Jake" Blankenship, 6-foot-5, 270 pound lineman, intercepted a Cowboy punt attempt and return it 34 yards for the Mustangs first score on the evening. Chance Carter added the PAT to put the Minarets up 7-0.
The Cowboys put together a drive and kicked a field goal as the half ended.
With 3:42 left in the third quarter, the Mustangs botched a fair catch on a Riverdale punt. Four plays later, Cowboy quarterback Ivan Vega, connected with his brother, Jaime, for a eight yard touchdown pass to give the Cowboys a 10-7 lead following the PAT.
On the ensuring kick-off Minarets return specialist Sam Reyes brought Mustang fans to their feet with an electrifying 92-yard kick off return to put Minarets back on top 13-10 after a failed PAT.
Twice the Mustangs converted on fourth and long to continue scoring drives. Facing a fourth and 14 from the Riverdale 34 yard line, quarterback Keenan Reardon rolled left from the pocket eluding heavy pressure and found receiver Cosmo Tracy at the Riverdale five yard line. With a Cowboy defender grabbing his shoulder, Tracy tipped the ball in the air and grabbed it on the way down, taking it to the two yard line. The play earned the Channel 30 "Play of the Week" voted by viewers.
Senior Mitch Pritchett then scored his first of two touchdowns on the night, a two-yard carry to put Minarets up 19-17. Pritchett had 91 yards rushing on the evening.
The Cowboys' Jaime Vega scored his second TD on the night from two yards out. Vega scored after the Cowboys went to the spread offense and drove 65 yards for the go-ahead score. A missed PAT gave Riverdale a 23-19 lead with 2:14 left to play.
Big run for Pritchett
Jackson Soares recovered the ensuing squib kick-off to give the Mustangs good field position at midfield. Three plays later, Pritchett broke through the Riverdale line for a 37-yard TD. The PAT was unsuccessful and Minarets had a 25-23 lead with 1:46 left in the game.
Cowboy QB Vega threw four consecutive passes that hit receivers in the hands but they were unable to handle.
"We won a hard fought game and came back a couple of times to win a game we very well could have lost,"Kelly said. We had great efforts from Soares and Reyes, they both overcame adversity to make game changing plays. Jackson had a huge catch on a fourth down play in the third quarter to keep a drive alive, resulting in a score."
The coach noted that Reyes dropped a punt for the first time this season but "came back big time" with a long kick-off return for a touchdown.
The Mustangs offense totaled just 170 yards on the game, but made the big plays when needed. Reardon was four of eight for 65 yards. The Mustangs running game had 105 yards on the ground. Special teams made the difference in this one, with the Blankenship and Reyes scores.
The Mustangs have Fowler (2-5, 1-0) team coming to Minarets Friday.
"They run and throw the ball well and are solid on defense as well as special teams ... we will have to step up our game in order to have a chance this week," Kelly said.
JV team wins 38-28
The Mustangs JV team (5-2, 2-0) beat the Cowboys 38-28 to go 2-0 in league play.
First quarter offense was slow to get moving until Deangelo Coffee caused and recovered a fumble on the cowboys 30 yard line. Eventually Holden Cordel powered the ball into the end zone on a one-yard score. The Cowboys responded quickly with a score of their own.
When Luke Tovar entered the game in the second quarter his impact was immediate with a 59-yard run to the end zone on his first touch of the night. He would follow up with three additional TDs of 66, 73, and five yards.
Luke Prichett connected with Christian Low for a 39-yard TD pass to cap the scoring. Prichett and Jakob Walker also connected on long completions of 30, 33, and 12 yards.
Friday game times: JV, 5 p.m., varsity, 7:30 p.m.