The Minarets Mustangs (1-2) traveled to Mariposa last week for a showdown with the Grizzlies (1-1), and came up on the wrong end of a 35-14 score.
The Grizzlies defeated the Mustangs 42-23 last season playing at Minarets.
The 2017 Minarets football team is much improved from last year, and the Mustang faithful had reason to believe they could pull off the upset on the road.
Minarets had nearly 500 all-purpose yards in the game, but turnovers were the difference.
“We killed ourselves with 6 fumbles (4 lost) and an interception,” said Mustangs Head Coach Becher Marr. “You can’t win turning the ball over that many times. We played tough, physical defense and shut them down offensively.”
Overall, Marr was impressed with the Mustang D.
“We are playing defense that is going to win us games this season,” Marr said. We will work out the kinks on offense and will be ready to roll soon.”
On the opening Minarets kickoff, Mariposa used a trick play on the return and sophomore Logan Donati raced 90 yards for the TD. The point after failed. Donati had 160 all-purpose yards on the night.
Later in the first quarter the Mustang defense responded. Mustang linebacker Tyson Ellis stepped in front of a pass from Grizzly quarterback Colton Weidner and bolted for a 22-yard TD. Payton Phillips booted the point after and Minarets had a 7-6 lead.
The Minarets offense missed two scoring opportunities in the first quarter. Two drives stalled at the 28 and 33-yard line in Grizzly territory.
Mariposa took the lead for good at the end of the second quarter. With 1:18 before half, Minarets fumbled at its 31. It looked like the Mustang defense would hold, but on a fourth and 10 Weidner hit Leo Kari for a TD with only 8 seconds left on the clock before halftime. Ryan Leonard bulled in for the 2-point conversion and the Grizzlies were up 14-7 at the half.
Grizzlies score 14 in third quarter
The Grizzlies put the game away in the third quarter scoring 14 points. Minarets fumbled on its first possession of the second half, with Mariposa recovering at the Minarets 19. On the next play Weidner hit Preston Scherf for a touchdown.
Later in the quarter, Weidner threw a 21-yard touchdown to Kari to secure the win. Weidner scored on the 2-point conversion and it was 28-7 at the end of three.
There was a scary moment prior to the Grizzly score, when Minarets strong safety Zach Redman had a hard collision with Kari. Redman was taken by ambulance to Fremont Hospital. The stadium went quiet and players from both sides took a knee. As Redman was being carted off, he waved to the crowd and received a huge ovation.
Midway through the fourth quarter Grizzly linebacker Sam Johnson picked off a Noah Fulton pass and returned it 30 yards for the final Grizzly touchdown.
Late in the fourth quarter Fulton connected with Preston Conti for an 80-yard touchdown.
Fulton was 18 of 35 for 265 yards and a TD. Fulton had 7 rushes for 30 yards. He connected with 6 different receivers. Tyson Ellis had 11 carries for 40 yards.
Preston Conti led all receivers with 126 yards on just 3 catches and a touchdown. EG Walden had 5 catches for 85 yards. Zack Redman had 3 for 21 yards. Jacob Cullen had a 63 yard kickoff return.
On defense Jacob Cullen led Minarets with 8 tackles, 3 for loss. Weylong Obernolte, Conti, and Redman had 6 tackles each.
Mariposa quarterback Colton Weidner had 163 yards passing and led Mariposa with 133 yards rushing. The Grizzly ground game pounded out 242 yards to 71 for Minarets. Leo Kari led Mariposa with 105 yards receiving and 2 TDs.
Minarets JV shut out
The Minarets JV were blanked 34-0 by Mariposa. The Grizzly JV scored early and often as a result of Mustang miscues in the kicking game.
The Grizzlies had a 26-0 lead in the first half with all of their starting possessions in Mustang territory. The Mustang kick return team had difficulty fielding Grizzly kickoffs with four fumbles.
The Mustang played a solid second half limiting the Grizzly offense to just 8 points.
Minarets plays at home this Friday against the Tranquility Tigers (0-3) of the West Sierra League. Tranquility has been outscored 122-32 in their first three games this season.
JV starts at 5:30 p.m. - Varsity 7:30.