Run and gun behind junior quarterback Bubba Mustain with some defense mixed in sums up Friday night’s 63-28 win by the Pusch Ridge Christian Academy Lions over the Paradise Honors Panthers.
Mustain, a junior, passed for four touchdowns and ran for another in his second career varsity start.
The view of the Catalinas from the Pusch Ridge football field is mesmerizing, maybe too mesmerizing for their opponent on Friday night as the Lions (2-0) dominated the first quarter, holding Paradise Honors (1-1) scoreless.
Pusch Ridge receiver Bryce Jewell grabbed a quick release pass from Mustain to score the Lions’ first touchdown of the quarter.
On their next offensive possession, the Lions moved the ball down the field culminating in a sneak by Mustain and Pusch Ridge led 14-0 at the end of the first quarter.
Paradise Honors started the second quarter on offense from its own 24-yard line.
Two plays later, Brysen Barrios, who missed most of last week’s win over ALA-West Foothills with an elbow injury, picked off a pass and ran it back to the Panther 7-yard line.
On 4th and 4, Barrios pushed over the goal line for the touchdown and the Lions went up 21-0.
Paradise Honors’ offense got clicking on its next possession, marching down the field for a touchdown from quarterback Gage Baker to receiver Isaiah Thomas. The two-point conversion failed and it was 21-6 with 4:28 left in the half.
The Lions answered back with a 77-yard touchown pass from Mustain to Jewell to put Pusch Ridge up 28-6.
Paradise Honors came right back with Baker completing a touchdown pass to receiver Josh Morales. The two-point conversion was good making it 28-14 with 2:23 left in the half.
Barrios, who ran the kickoff back 33 yards, got the handoff and ran 25 yards for the touchdown, putting Pusch Ridge up 35-14 with 1:13 to go to the half.
After the Lions’ defense had another interception, Pusch Ridge scored on a 2-yard pass from Mustain to his brother Tyler Mustain. At the half, Pusch Ridge led Paradise Honors 42-14.
Paradise Honors dominated the third quarter, holding Pusch Ridge scoreless while putting up two touchdowns. A Baker touchdown pass and scoring run by running back Vance Cooper shrank the Lions’ lead to 42-28.
Pusch Ridge scored on the first play of the fourth quarter. Bubba Mustain handed off to running back Abraham Grajeda for the touchdown.
The Lions scored two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter — a 32-yard pass from Mustain to Jack Butler and a 58-yard run by running back Blake Reed. The Lions’ defense came up big to hold Paradise Honors scoreless in the final quarter.
Next game for Pusch Ridge is in Bullhead City against Mohave (1-0) on Friday.
*It was a humid night in Oro Valley. Cramping started hitting players during the second half of the game.
*Eleven plays into the first game of the season, Barrios dislocated his elbow. One week later, he was suited up to play for the Lions. Barrios returned kickoffs, scored two touchdowns and had an interception.
*Pusch Ridge Head Coach Kent Middleton has put together a talented group of coaches. Many coming over from Ironwood Ridge. Assistant Coaches Soma Osika Helu, Jeff Drescher, Calvin Knox and Brent Bartz all coached at Ironwood Ridge during their careers. Asked why he decided to coach at Pusch Ridge, Drescher said, “the culture at Pusch Ridge is just different.”
*Paradise Honors did not utilize a punter during the game keeping their offense on the field for all fourth down possessions.
*Pusch Ridge kicker Tyler Nolan was 9-of-9 on extra-point attempts. His only miss of the night was a field goal in the third quarter.