Tucson Sugar Skulls

Sugar Skulls QB Mitchell returns, new players shine in loss to Arizona Rattlers

Mylik Mitchell threw three touchdowns in his return from injury (Gilbert Alcaraz/Special to AllSportsTucson.com).

Costly penalties and turnovers proved too much to overcome, despite an impressive showing on both sides of the ball for the Tucson Sugar Skulls, who dropped their fourth consecutive game.

The Arizona Rattlers beat Tucson 38-32 at the Tucson Convention Center on Saturday night.

“I thought the defense played real well tonight,” head coach Billy Back said. “Jaylen Parks really got after it and I thought Ahmad Lyons played well, too. We got a lot to build off of on defense. Timing was off a bit offensively with Mylik’s first game back so i think we got a lot to build.”

Tucson (1-5) has struggled heavily against its in-state rivals, posting a 2-9 overall record with the recent loss, 1-5 when playing at home.

Amongst a laundry list of unforced errors was a bright spot in the return of starting quarterback Mylik Mitchell and the debut of wide receiver Brian Smith.

Mitchell was sidelined for the last two games due to injury and was able to get some extra time to heal with the bye week last week.

Mitchell was shaky to start the game and even fumbled at the goal line during a huge touchdown opportunity, but once he found his rhythm, he was the same quarterback that won the Week 2 Offensive Player of the Week.

“I felt good today, nothing felt off with my body,” Mitchell said. “I got protection on my knee for precautionary reasons I felt good running I wish I could’ve ran a little bit more.”

Smith proved to be a huge impact in his first game with the Sugar Skulls, catching two touchdowns despite just joining the team.

“I think I played well, but there’s always room for improvement,” Smith said. “We fell short but we’re gonna get to practice Monday, work on a few things and take care of Vegas.”

Tucson will remain at the TCC next week. The Sugar Skulls will take on the undefeated Las Vegas Knight Hawks (7-0) on Saturday at 6:05 p.m. The Night Hawks have on their staff former Sugar Skulls coach Hurtis Chinn, who is their offensive coordinator.

Newly signed defensive back Derrion Rakestraw also played well in his debut, leading the defense in tackles.

The Sugar Skulls moved the chains about 30 yards to the midfield and ended with a field goal by Demitri Fotinos, putting them up 3-0 with 10:55 to play in the first quarter.

An awkward bounce on the kick off gave the Rattlers great field position at the Skulls’ 22-yard line. All it took was an offsides penalty by Parks and three plays for the Rattlers to answer back with a touchdown of their own.

The 6-yard rush was punched in by Jamal Miles and it put the Rattlers up 7-3 with 7:38 left in the first quarter.

The Sugar Skulls’ next drive started on their own 7 and only four yards were gained before a field goal was attempted and missed.

Arizona was placed at its 15 after the missed kick and marched all the way down to the Sugar Skulls’ 3.

A huge blocked pass by Parks on fourth down gave the Sugar Skulls the ball back.

Tucson created a little bit of breathing room with an 8-yard pass to Mike Jones, then gashed the Arizona defense with a 24-yard handoff to Jalin Marshall on his first carry of the game, placing the Sugar Skulls at the Rattlers’ 15.

On third and seven, Mitchell ran the ball in himself on a quarterback sneak, putting Tucson up 9-7 after the extra-point attempt was fumbled with 10:16 left in the half.

The Rattlers returned the kickoff to their own 12. The Sugar Skulls held strong on the first play of the drive, but an unsportsmanlike conduct call gave Arizona a 15-yard boost to the Tucson 22.

Arizona ran three straight running plays to cap the drive off with a touchdown, putting the Sugar Skulls back in the hole at 14-9 with 6:16 left in the half.

Arizona put up another three points after the Sugar Skulls failed to get past their own 15 after coming up short on a fourth-down conversion, putting Tucson farther back with a 17-9 score with 45 seconds to go.

The Sugar Skulls got as far as the Rattlers’ 24 on their next drive before Fotinos made a field goal, cutting the gap at 17-12 by the end of the half.

The Rattlers got the ball to start the second half and ran it back to its own 12-yard line. Arizona scored on its second play with a 38-yard touchdown pass, making it a 24-12 game following the extra point with 13:05 to play in the third quarter.

Tucson got the ball back and drove all the way to the Rattlers 1-yardline. Mitchell fumbled the ball on the goal line and Arizona recovered it to start its drive.

The Sugar Skulls defense held the Rattlers on its side of the field and blocked a fourth down pass to get the ball back with lofty field position at the Arizona 21-yardline.

Mitchell connected with Smith for a 21-yard touchdown pass, cutting Arizona’s lead to 24-18 after the extra point was fumbled with 3:36 in the third quarter.

The stout Tucson defense forced a fumble to get the ball back, but the momentum was short lived as Mitchell also coughed the ball up on the second play of the drive and recovered at the Arizona 19-yardline.

Arizona capitalized on the opportunity with a 28-yard pass to Tucson’s 5. A subsequent running touchdown put the Rattlers further ahead at 31-18 with 13:58 left in the game

Davonte Sapp-Lynch set the Sugar Skulls up with nice field position at the Arizona 21-yard line on the kickoff return.

Mitchell connected with Jones on a 16-yard pass to put the Sugar Skulls five yards within the endzone. Three plays later, Mitchell found Marshall in the corner of the endzone, making it a 31-25 game with 9:53 to play.

Arizona took its time on the next drive, using up six minutes and driving the ball from its 18 to the Tucson 5 and eventually scored.

The short pass for the touchdown put the Arizona Rattlers up 38-25 with 3:49 remaining.

The Mitchell-Smith connection grew stronger throughout the game and led to a 27-yard touchdown pass to put some life into the Sugar Skulls with a 38-31 score with 1:41 left.

Tucson’s onside kick attempt failed and Arizona lined up in victory formation to close out the game.

Mitchell went 8 for 14 in his return, threw for 94 yards, ran for 31 and completed three passing touchdowns. He also rushed for a score.

Smith caught three passes for 56 yards and two touchdowns. Jones had three catches for 31 yards. Marshall had two receptions for eight yards and a touchdown.

Rakestraw led the Sugar Skulls defense in solo tackles with six.

Parks led in pass break-ups with three.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
To Top