Pusch Ridge dropped its first game of the season, falling 26-21 at home against Snowflake in a hard-fought game on Friday night.
Defending 3A state champion Snowflake’s physicality on both sides of the ball was the determining factor in an otherwise evenly matched game in which the most outstanding player on the field was Pusch Ridge’s Bubba Mustain.
Snowflake missed a field goal with a minute remaining in the game, giving Pusch Ridge an opportunity for a game-winning drive, but Snowflake’s hard-nosed defense forced a turnover on downs that sealed the deal.
In the first drive of the game, Snowflake got on the board with an 81-yard touchdown reception from Caden Cantrell to Noah Baum. Pusch Ridge tied the game up when Ryan Fontaine found Mustain on a 42-yard touchdown pass on the ensuing drive. Cantrell found Baum again for a touchdown pass from 25 yards out that closed out the first quarter. With three minutes remaining in the first half, Snowflake seemed to be in relative control of the game until Mustain had a 35-yard pick-6 that knotted the game up at 14-14.
The score remained the same until Snowflake marched the ball from their 43-yard line, culminating in a goal-line rushing touchdown from Camden Brimhall with about a minute remaining in the third quarter that put Snowflake up 20-14 after a missed PAT. Pusch Ridge answered with a touchdown drive that started from their 20-yard line fueled by three big receptions from Mustain, the final one from 2-yards out for a score.
With eight minutes to play, Pusch Ridge had a 21-20 lead over Snowflake and a packed homecoming crowd at their side, but Snowflake milked much of the remaining clock during their final touchdown drive that started from their 35-yard line and ended with a 3-yard rushing touchdown from Cantrell and a missed 2-point conversion attempt that proved inconsequential.
After the game, Pusch Ridge head coach Kent Middleton commented on the physicality of Snowflake and how he felt about his team’s performance.
“They were able to line up a couple times and just pound it down our throats against our defense,” Middleton said. “We had a hard time blocking them up front at times, but we played hard. It was a great high school football game, we had our chances and we just didn’t quite get there.”
Mustain scored all three of Pusch Ridge’s touchdowns on the night.
Middleton, who played wing for the Ice Cats under coach Leo Golembieski in the mid-1980’s, is now 12-3 in his second year as head coach at Pusch Ridge after a 32-year coaching journey.
Pusch Ridge (4-1) plays next at Sabino (3-2) on Friday, Oct. 8. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com writing intern Kevin Murphy was born and raised in Tucson, and has followed Arizona Wildcats athletics since childhood. He is currently attending Pima Community College where he writes for the Aztec Press. Next semester he will be attending the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at ASU where he will work towards a Bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication and Media Studies.