The Page football team traveled to Monument Valley last Friday to face the 4-1 Mustangs, a rival that matched them closely on both offense and defense. The Sand Devils were ready for almost everything the Mustangs could throw at them.
And, as they have done all season with great success, the Mustangs came out throwing, but this time with little success.
Part of the reason for the Mustangs failure at the passing game was that their starting quarterback was out for the game, but certainly much of the Sand Devils on-field achievement must be given to their defensive coordinator, Mark Openshaw, who had his defense ready to stop the pass.
Monument Valley came very close to scoring on its first two possessions. Their first drive ended a few yards shy of the end zone after Christian White intercepted a Mustang pass.
The Sand Devils offense progressed just 15 yards down the field before the Mustangs recovered a Kele Meredith fumble and had another go at the end zone. The Mustangs, starting from their own 15, failed to score again.
Senior cornerback Christian Penrod ended the Mustangs’ third and fifth drives when he intercepted two Mustangs passes.
The Sand Devils offense sputtered throughout the entire first half but that quickly changed in the second half when Meredith made a 60-yard touchdown run on the Sand Devils first play. Quarterback Jacob Doyle ran it in to add two points on the PAT.
However, the Mustangs wasted no time striking back. Their running back DeMarquez Benson ran in a 56-yard touchdown. The Sand Devils maintained an 8-6 lead after they stopped the Mustangs PAT.
The Sand Devils took firm control of the game’s second half, both offensively and defensively. It looked to be a matter of better conditioning; for the rest of the game they stayed a step ahead of their opponents.
The Sand Devils offense scored on three of their next seven drives, and their final possession was just taking a knee to run out the clock.
The Mustangs put together a late game rally, scoring another touchdown on their last drive making final score Page 28, Monument Valley 14.
The victory over Monument Valley was a big one. The Mustangs represented one of their fiercest opponents this year.
“[The Mustangs] won region last year, so this was a game we knew we had to win to have an opportunity to win the region,” said coach Mitchell Stephens.
Meredith had 20 carries for 195 yards and two touchdowns. Hayden Gracia had 11 carries for 85 yards.
Jacob Doyle had 22 carries for 158 yards and one touchdown. He also passed for another touchdown to Kimball Begay.
The Sand Devils return to Page for Homecoming on Friday where they’ll take on Ganado. Kickoff is at 6 instead of 7.