CASA GRANDE – The long drought is over for the Vista Grande football team.
The Spartans snapped a 17-game losing streak Friday night in spectacular fashion, scoring the go-ahead touchdown with 58.6 seconds remaining to defeat Phoenix Shadow Mountain 28-21 in their season opener.
“We didn’t play perfect by any stretch of the imagination but eventually things went our way,” Vista Grande coach Chris Semore said. “The resiliency we showed was amazing. I am just so proud of the kids.”
The eight-play, 57-yard TD drive ended with Louis Tellez catching an 8-yard pass from Donald Altaffer on a fourth-and-3 play. It began after Tellez tackled Shadow Mountain quarterback Christian Thomson for a 1-yard loss on fourth and 7 with 3:02 left.
“After we got that stop, there was no doubt in the kids’ minds that they were going to win the ballgame,” Semore said. “This was so important for our program and our school, and especially our seniors.”
Jace Atkins returned an interception 73 yards for a touchdown for the Spartans, who overcame three turnovers in notching their first win since 2018. Altaffer threw a 12-yard scoring pass to Tyrese Constable and ran 6 yards for Vista Grande’s other TD. Altaffer also had a pair of two-point conversion runs.
The Spartans rushed for 107 yards on 27 attempts. Altaffer completed 11 of 26 passes for 155 yards with two interceptions.
Shadow Mountain completed only three passes in the game, but two went for touchdowns on plays of 43 and 63 yards. Thomson had a 23-yard TD run on the opening series of the second half.
Constable’s interception thwarted a potential Shadow Mountain scoring drive with under a minute to play in the first half. The Spartans recovered a fumble at the Vista Grande 5-yard line with 2:13 left in the third quarter to once again keep the Matadors out of the end zone.
Altaffer’s TD pass to Constable and conversion run gave the Spartans an 8-7 lead with 11:03 remaining in the second quarter. Atkins’ touchdown put Vista Grande up 14-7 with 3:08 left in the first half.
Constable had a 29-yard catch one play before Altaffer’s TD run snapped a 14-14 tie with 6:33 remaining in the third quarter.
A roughing-the-punter penalty prolonged a Shadow Mountain scoring drive that gave the Matadors a 21-20 lead with 7:23 left in the fourth quarter.
Constable had a 27-yard reception and Altaffer ran for 15 yards on the decisive drive.