Braeden Mueller
ASU Student Journalist

Recap: Tolleson's first half propels it to victory

September 11, 2017 by Braeden Mueller , Arizona State University

Tolleson’s big first half propelled it to 37-14 victory Friday night over Mesa at Tolleson.

Tolleson (2-1) opened the scoring after forcing a punt from Mesa with 6:53 remaining in the first quarter. Andre Johnson received a screen pass from Patrick Ortega and turned it into a 35-yard receiving touchdown to make it 7-0 in the opening moments.

“Good to know I got a guy like Andre,” Ortega said.

Tolleson  stacked the line of scrimmage to stop Mesa’s high powered running back Kris Jackson from getting comfortable. After a threatening Mesa drive, the Jackrabbits decided to punt after two straight dead ball penalties.

The ball got snapped to the punter, who took one step before a Tolleson player would tip the ball, which fell in the hands of Andre Johnson for his second touchdown of the night to make it 14-0 with 1:05 remaining in the first quarter.

“He is one great kid (Andre Johnson) who we try to get the ball to in all aspects,” Tolleson coach Jason Wilke said. “We are excited he is playing for Tolleson.”

Coming into the second quarter with all the momentum, the high-powered Wolverines offense commanded the flow of the game by running the ball.

"We fell back and ran the clock," Johnson said.

After another Mesa drive halted by the Wolverine defense, Tolleson found itself on the Mesa 45-yard line, and Kennieth Rosado located a hole through the line and was alone on a 35-yard touchdown run. The score made it 21-0 with 9:30 remaining in the first half.

Mesa (1-3) would get its best field position by starting on its 41-yard line, but on the second snap of the series, Nick Landing forced a fumble for Tolleson, which took over at the Mesa 44-yard line.

However, Mesa’ Edward McClendon intercepted a pass after a botched reverse attempt to set up Mesa with an opportunity to score before the half.

Mesa methodically drove down the field with the running game from Jackson, and after a series of first downs and a roughing the passer penalty, the Jackrabbits scored to make it 21-6 after a blocked PAT.

On the ensuing kickoff, Johnson took the kickoff all the way to the house with an 85-yard touchdown return to make it three touchdowns for Johnson in the first half.

Johnson finished with 61 receiving yards and 153 return yards with three touchdowns on the night.

“I just followed the coaches’ plan,” Johnson said.

When the game restarted, it became a defensive showcase for both teams.

For the second time on the night, Tolleson’s special teams came up with a blocked punt. This time Kenny Rosado got a hand on the ball with seven minutes remaining in the third quarter.

After some three and outs for both teams, the Jackrabbits relied on Jackson to generate some offense. With 2:50 left in the third quarter, Jackson broke off a run of 15-yards to convert a crucial third-and-six play and put Mesa in Tolleson territory.

After the conversion on third down, Mesa had an opportunity to make it interesting with 51 seconds left in the third quarter. McClendon scored on a a 15-yard dime pass. On the ensuing two-point conversion attempt, Marcus Taylor tapped his feet inbounds to make it 28-14 at the end of the third quarter.

As the student section for Tolleson came alive for the start fourth quarter, the Wolverines needed the defense to step up, as they pinned Mesa within its 17-yard line after a failed fourth-down attempt.

Mesa consistently pinned within its half of the field tried to go deep, but Tolleson’s Curtis Rondeau attacked the ball at the high point and intercepted it and return it to the Mesa 5-yard line.

“We need to get better,” Mesa coach Kap Sikahema said. “We make mistakes, but we can build from it,” Mesa coach Kap Sikahema said.

After a great defensive stop by Mesa within its red zone, Tolleson settled for Jose Deharo’s 24-yard field goal to make it 31-14 in the fourth.

With the game decided after Mesa could not convert a fourth down Ortega scored after a three-minute drive to make it 37-14.