Up until the midway point of the third quarter, you would have thought that the last team that had the ball was going to win Friday night’s Division I, Section III contest between host Mesa and Mesa Mountain View.
However, if you have a quarterback like John Clark playing for you, an eruption in scoring can happen at any time and that’s exactly what happened.
Clark ended up playing an instrumental part in igniting the offense in the second half as Mesa Mountain View spoiled Mesa High’s homecoming by pulling away with a 42-24 victory.
Deadlocked at 21-21, Clark hit senior running back Brock Westover from 9 yards out to give the visitors the lead for good at 28-21 with 3:54 left in the third period.
But that was just a small sample of Clark’s night. All the senior gunslinger did was throw for a career-high 424 yards on 28-of-39 completions and five touchdowns.
“We definitely came out a little slow and underestimated them (Mesa),” Clark said. “The offensive line did an outstanding job of getting me time to throw the ball and the receivers made some excellent catches.”
Senior kicker Noe Pereles booted a 44-yard field goal a minute into the fourth frame to keep Mesa (3-5, 0-3) within striking distance at 28-24.
But Clark went back to his bag of tricks in hitting senior wide receiver Clark Brown on scoring strikes of 16 and 10 yards to put the game out of reach and ultimately end the scoring.
“We made some adjustments at halftime and the result was our defense did an excellent job in holding them (Mesa) to 10 points in the second half,” Mesa Mountain View coach Chad DeGrenier said. “And John (Clark) really stepped up tonight. The offensive line was outstanding in given him protection.”
Mesa played a spirited game in front of a packed crowd. Junior running back Turrell Pietz-Noble ran wild in racking up 150 yards on 18 carries and two touchdowns.
Mesa jumped ahead 14-0 with 10:43 left in the half when Chris Shelton dashed in from 12 yards out and things were looking promising for the hosts.
Clark started the comeback when he threw two second-quarter scoring strikes, the first to Westover from 18 yards and the second to Brown from 56 yards out to draw even at 14-14 heading into the locker room.
Pietz-Noble scored his second touchdown from 3 yards just a minute into the second half to put Mesa ahead once again at 21-14. But Mesa Mountain View (6-2, 2-1) responded when Westover darted in from 5 yards tie it at 21-21.
“This is one of the oldest rivalries around,” DeGrenier said. “Throw the records out. These two teams always play a very competitive game.”