MARICOPA — After running through their first two opponents in the Arizona Interscholastic Association, Sequoia Pathway met its most difficult opponent yet when it faced Chandler Prep on Friday.
The million-dollar question to end the game, was Chandler Prep’s field goal good? According to the referees on the field it was not, and they quickly scurried away to the parking lot.
The Pumas play at Pacana Park and the field that is used does not have goal posts that are 20-feet high. There were four seconds left in the game as Chandler Prep was looking for the win on a field goal inside the 30-yard line.
The kick sailed extremely high, but it was unclear if the kick was within the uprights as Pathway held on for a 24-22 victory.
“Right there I couldn’t tell if it was in or out, but we’ll take it though,” Pathway coach Donnie Margerum said. “It was a good game, they put up a good fight. I liked this game, we needed this game to see where we’re at playing against a good team like that. It let us know where we’re at and what we need to work on.”
Chandler Prep began the fourth quarter trailing 18-14 in Pumas territory after Aidan Daly’s 37-yard carry brought the Titans to the 18-yard line.
Daly rushed two more times for 11 yards and quarterback Reese Vilaboy added two carries to bring the ball to the 1-yard line.
Daly bulldozed his way into the end zone and then got the two-point conversion to make it a 22-18 game.
Pathway started its drive at its own 45-yard line and Izaiah Stewart’s four carries crossed the Pumas over into Titans territory.
A short pass from quarterback Alex Montano to Tre Lacey and a run by Stewart for minimal gain brought Pathway to the 35-yard line.
Stewart exploded for a 20-yard carry and eventually scored on a 9-yard run. Some miscues by the Pumas ended up in a failed two-point conversion, but they reclaimed the lead 24-22.
“I learned that there’s some things we need to clean up,” Margerum said. “We need to tackle a lot better, but I learned that we can fight if we have to. When adversity hit us we’re not going to tuck our tails and run, we’re going to stand up and fight, and that’s what my boys did tonight and I’m proud of them.”
The Titans started their drive that their own 32-yard line as Vilaboy connected with Sterling Harris for 9 yards.
Daly then single-handedly marched the Titans down the field before he was stopped at the 9-yard line.
The Pumas defense made their stand and pushed Daly and Chandler Prep back a yard and kept them there with four seconds left in the game to set up the field goal.
“I expected a close game just because they’re a well-coached team and they were going to come in disciplined and they were going to do their jobs,” Margerum said. “My boys hadn’t faced that yet this season, and I was a little bit worried about that coming in but they showed me they were ready to go and this helps us grow for the season and where [we’re] trying to go.”
Chandler Prep began the game with a Noah Lobue touchdown, the Pumas blocked the kick to make it a 6-0 game, but they quickly responded to tie it up on a 44-yard touchdown run by Stewart.
The Titans only managed to run two plays on their next possession after Daly fumbled the ball and the Puma defense nearly had the touchdown but was stopped at the 5-yard line.
Andre Smith capped off Pathway’s drive with two carries for the score as the Pumas led 12-6.
Chandler Prep regained the lead in the second quarter on a 12-yard run and carried a 14-12 lead at halftime.
It only took Pathway one play in the third quarter to reclaim the lead as Smith ran 69 yards for the touchdown to make it 18-14.
“I told them this is the game we’ve been looking for,” Margerum said of his talk with the Pumas at halftime. “We wanted a challenge to see where we’re at with this AIA stuff, and they stepped up to the plate. They came out firing on all cylinders and showed me that they can fight if they have to. I’m excited to get a win against an AIA team like that, when we were picked to lose. Our boys are fired up, we had a good test against a good disciplined team like that.”
Stewart had 14 carries for 127 yards and scored two touchdowns for Pathway. His counterpart for the Titans, Daly matched him with two touchdowns and had more than 100 yards rushing on 13 carries.