It was Homecoming night for Pusch Ridge Christian Academy, and the Lions made sure to send current and former students home (or to the dance) happy with a 59-0 win over Benson in the 3A South opener for both teams Friday night.
The Lions (5-0 overall) have won each of their first five games by 20 or more points. That trend continued as their offense, led by quarterback Bubba Mustain, thrived.
Mustain and the offense moved the ball down the field on the opening drive of the game, scoring on a 15-yard pass to Bryce Jewell to take a 7-0 lead early.
A quick fumble recovery by Brysen Barrios set the Lions up with great field position and Mustain once again found the end zone, this time on the ground from one yard out to make it 14-0.
Benson’s offense struggled in the first half, committing turnovers on back-to-back possessions to open the game.
An interception by Barrios once again gave the Lions excellent field position and they capitalized. Mustain threw a touchdown pass to Jack Butler to make it 21-0.
Mustain accounted for five total touchdowns — three in the air and two on the ground.
Pusch Ridge head coach Kent Middleton praised his young quarterback’s demeanor.
“Bubba is a very composed, cool customer,” he said. “He’s excellent under pressure and has played extremely well all year long. Nothing seems to get to him.”
Benson relied heavily on two players, senior wide receiver Aiden Finch and running back Colton Tyra, for its offensive production.
Middleton credited his improved run defense from a week ago against Catalina Foothills, when they gave up more than 200 yards on the ground, for their dominate defensive effort.
“We will always continue to improve our run defense. We got to make sure that we stop the run,” he said. “We did a much better job tonight than we did last week, but we got a long way to go, still.”
The Lions forced another Benson (3-2) turnover, which led to a field goal to make it 24-0.
A 16-yard rushing touchdown by Barrios put the Lions up 31-0 before the end of the first quarter.
Middleton credited an excellent week of preparation for his team’s incredible start.
“We had a real good week of practice focusing on them. They looked pretty good on film, and they were 3-1, so they got our full attention,” he said. “We got a couple of breaks early in the ballgame tonight with some turnovers and we just stayed with the momentum.”
Abraham Grajeda and Mustain rushing touchdowns in the second quarter gave the Lions a 45-0 lead at the half.
Mustain’s final play of the night might have been his best, rolling to his right in the shadow of his own upright and throwing a deep pass to Cody Rafacz, who caught it over the defender and took it 90 yards to the end zone, making it 52-0.
Backup quarterback Jacob Newborn added another rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter as well.
Pusch Ridge looks towards the meat of its schedule next, as the Lions travel to Thatcher (4-0, 1-0) in a heavyweight battle next week. Middleton acknowledged the level of competition that his team will face in the coming weeks.
“Thatcher is a great, great football team. They knocked us out of the playoffs last year. They are riding high with big, big wins in some really tough games they had,” he said.
Benson will look to rebound against Palo Verde (2-3, 0-1) at home next week.
Pusch Ridge is 5-0 for only the fourth time in program history, the last time occurring in 2017 when the Lions lost in the state title game and finished 13-1.
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com writing intern Harrison Moreno is a southern Arizona native who has watched Wildcat athletics since he was young kid. He recently is a graduate of The University of Arizona’s School of Journalism, with a focus in broadcast and audio journalism.