This one was won in the weight room.
That’s according to Mesa coach Kelley Moore, who put forth the equation that conditioning equals victories. A solid second half from a stronger Mesa team proved his point as it defeated host Surprise Valley Vista 30-21 in a Division I non-section game.
Down 21-20 at the start of the final period, Mesa (3-1) combined two key plays into their third win of the season. First, a 46-yard field goal from Noe Pereleshelped to push Mesa into a two-point lead with 3:59 remaining, and a 39-yard touchdown run from Turrell Pietz-Noble with 2:38 left put this out of reach of Valley Vista (2-2).
“Conditioning is important, and we preach conditioning all the time,” Moore said. “We have many guys who go both ways, and they need to be ready for the fourth quarter.”
It also helps to have an opportunistic defense.
The Mesa secondary intercepted Valley Vista quarterback Damian Alarcon four times and stopped the Valley Vista offense three times on fourth-down attempts.
The critical stop occurred late in the game.
Down 23-21 and facing a fourth and 10 from its 37 with just over three minutes left in the game, Alarcon was forced out of the pocket and wildly out of bounds in front of the Mesa bench.
On the first play from taking possession, Pietz-Noble scored a touchdown on that 39-yard touchdown run and sealed the deal on this one.
“At this point, we’re dysfunctional,” Valley Vista coach Josh Sekoch said. “In the opening games, we’ve started slow, make too many mistakes and take way too many penalties. We seem to get stronger in the second half, but I don’t have an explanation who we’re slow to start. The slow starts have killed us.”
Pietz-Noble, a 5-10 junior, led all rushers with 226 yards on 22 carriers and three touchdowns.
Alarcoin finished with a 14-for-30 night, 294 yards, three touchdowns and the four picks. Most of those yards came on threepassing touchdowns of 35, 57 and 77 yards.
The solid Mesa defense held Valley Vista to a net of 63 yards on the ground on 26 carries.
Junior Elmando McCoy paced the Valley Vista ground game with 50 yards on 10 carries.