The Tucson Sugar Skulls’ season ended on Saturday night, losing 49-30 to the Northern Arizona Wranglers in Prescott Valley in the IFL Western Conference Playoffs opening round.
The Wranglers extended an 11-point lead at halftime, outscoring Tucson 14-6 in the second half.
Tucson’s dismal start was a sign of things to come.
A squib kick on the opening kickoff bounced over the back wall of the end zone after going through the hands of Tucson kick returner Benjamin Jones, resulting in a 1-point rouge for the Wranglers.
The Wranglers’ defense would force a turnover on downs on the ensuing drive.
Northern Arizona quarterback Kaleb Barker scored a rushing touchdown on a 4-yard scramble on the next possession, and just like that, the Wranglers were up 8-0 with 7:22 remaining in the first quarter.
Tucson went down by as much as 20 points in the second quarter before closing the gap at the end of the first half.
With 12 seconds left in the second quarter, Tucson quarterback Daquan Neal connected with Jazeric Peterson on a 45-yard touchdown pass. Logan Justus scored a deuce (two points) by kicking the following kickoff through the uprights, narrowing Northern Arizona’s lead to 32-24.
The Wranglers kicked a field goal as time expired in the second quarter, extending its lead to 11 points at halftime.
Tucson was held scoreless in the second half until midway through the fourth quarter when running back Mike Jones scored on a 3-yard rushing touchdown.
The matchup against Northern Arizona on Saturday marked the fourth time Tucson played the Wranglers in 2022. The Sugar Skulls went 1-2 against the Wranglers in the regular season.
The Sugar Skulls finish the 2022 season with a 9-8 record, a franchise record in wins.
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com writing intern Kevin Murphy was born and raised in Tucson, and has followed Arizona Wildcats athletics since childhood. Murphy is a journalist product manager with the Green Valley News & the Sahuarita Sun. He is currently attending the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at ASU where he is working towards a Bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication and Media Studies.