Prep football: Goal-line stand continues dream season for MV Mustangs

By Quentin Jodie
Navajo Times

PAGE, Ariz., September 27, 2012

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(Special to the Times – Donovan Quintero)

TOP: Monument Valley's Tito Bailey (30) cuts through Page's defense for a touchdown on Friday night in Page, Ariz.

BOTTOM: Monument Valley's Kervin Tom, gains yardage as he tackled by Page's Tyler Brown Friday night in Page, Ariz. Monument Valley defeated Page, 20-14.

I f confidence should help determine how the rest of the season plays out, then the Monument Valley football team has already succeeded.

In its stiffest test yet, the Mustangs (5-0) stopped the Page Sand Devils on their homecoming night with a goal line stand inside the one-yard line to preserve a hard-fought 20-14 win last Friday night.

"That is just typically Mustang football," Monument Valley coach Bryan Begay said. "Just sticking it right there on that goal line and stopping it. We had several of those in my career at Monument Valley."

With just inches to go, the Sand Devils (2-3) tried to punch it in with senior quarterback Drew Wilson drawing up his own play. But with a team effort the Mustangs stopped Wilson in his track to keep its unbeaten season in tack.

"I already knew they were going to run the ball with their quarterback," senior linebacker Tito Bailey said, who led the Mustangs with 14 tackles. "I just did my best to get right under the lineman and try to grab his (Wilson) legs."

"That was the play we needed," defensive back Tasi Malala added. "We just overloaded the middle and we just stopped them."

For a split second, though, it was hard to determine if Wilson had crossed that threshold. But when the officials ruled him just short of the goal line, MV regained possession with 4:46 left in the game.

"I thought we had that touchdown, but you know that (play) can't make or break the game," Page coach Jeff Wheatley said. "It is what it is. Some calls go your ways and some don't, but I told the boys that we made some mistakes."

Wheatley said they shouldn't have been in that situation as the coach lamented on a couple of key plays that cost his team.

In the second quarter, the Sand Devils marched down field for 58 yards in 18 plays before coughing it up inside the ten-yard line with a fumble.

Then in the third quarter, the home team cut short a long MV drive deep in their territory with a stop at their own 22-yard line. But on the very next play, Page gave it right back as they lost another fumble, which led to a MV score.

"We have a real young team and those mistakes really hurt us," Wheatley said. "We're starting a lot of sophomores and our goal is to get better and fix those mistakes and come out better (this) week."

Incidentally, that fumble gave MV a short field as Bailey ran the ball for only six yards for the game winning score. The senior running back then tacked on the two-point conversion with MV leading 20-14 with 6:16 to go in the third.

For the next six minutes both teams had a hard time moving the ball as they were forced to punt until Page started that final push.

The Sand Devils chewed up eight minutes and went 51 yards before they were stopped inside the one-yard line. In the middle of that drive, the scoreboard shortened out as the final eight minutes of the game clock was monitored by the officials.

"It made it harder and I kept asking (the officials) what the time was," Begay said of malfunctioning scoreboard.

"It made it harder, but you know we were on the road and things like that happen all the time," he said.

Nonetheless, the clock issue became minuscule as the Mustangs ran out the final 4:46, which included a gift from Page as they were assessed an unsportsmanlike conduct for questioning the referee's call about the failed touchdown attempt.

"That penalty by Page game us some breathing room," Begay said as the ball was moved up to the 16-yard line. "But I think our boys wanted it more and we'll take this."

As for their dream season, Begay downplayed that notion and said they are taking each game week-by-week.

"There is always work to be done," he said. "We're still peaking, there is never an opportunity to say we are done. Wins are great, losses hurt and you know we just want to stay on track. Our goal is to advance as far as we can with the boys that we have."

"I am not really thinking about our record," Bailey added. "My main focus is getting to the state playoffs. I can care less about an undefeated season as long as my team plays and works hard."

For much of the game, the pass-happy Mustangs aired the ball out with junior quarterback Redmond Delmar completing 12-of-21 passes for 219 yard with one touchdown and one interception.

Delmar set the tone early by going a perfect 4-for-4 in their first drive. He hit senior wideout Kervin Tom for two quick passes for 52 yards and then he connected with Tasi Mala, MV's other receiver, for a one-yard gain that put the ball at the Page's 27-yard line.

On his final throw, Delmar capped an 80-yard drive with a touchdown pass to Mala for a 6-0 lead with 9:01 left in the opening quarter.

"That was our game plan," Delmar said of throwing the ball. "That's been our bread and butter for the whole season."

That opening drive did spell out things clearly for the Sand Devils.

"We knew they were going to come out strong throwing the ball," Wheatley said. "They got us a couple of times, but we did make some adjustments and we got better."

While the Mustangs went to the air, Page relied on its running game as the Sand Devils ran the ball 51 times for 211 yards.

Westley Ball did most of the legwork as the junior halfback gained 58 yards on nine carries, which included a run of 40 yards to set up a short touchdown run by Wilson with 6:22 left to go in the first quarter.

"We have a strong rushing game," Ball said. "And I believe we almost played to our abilities, but we were just inconsistent. Those inconsistencies prevented us from fully dominating."

At 8:09 mark in the second quarter Wilson added another score and after the extra point by Xavier Ochoa, it put the Sand Devils ahead at 14-6.

In that drive, Page went 58 yards in seven plays with sophomore running back Jason Moore covering 33 yards.

On MV's ensuing possession, the Mustangs pulled within 14-12 on a seven-yard TD run by junior running back Gregory Williams.

Before the half came to a close MV had a chance to take the lead, but they were stopped inside the ten-yard line as Delmar's pass to the end zone was dropped by Tom.

"I don't know what the turnover outcome was but I know it was sloppy on both ends," Begay said. "For the most part we took advantage of their miscues."

And though it was an ugly game, the Mustangs had plenty to celebrate.

"We haven't beat this team in five years," Tom said of the Sand Devils. "This is an unbelievable feeling. This win is going to make us stronger."

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