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 game. opening 3A South for both teams Friday night.
The Lions (5-0 overall) have won each of their first five games by 20 points or more. This trend continued as their offense, led by quarterback Bubba Mustainflourished.
Mustain and the offense moved the ball upfield on the first drive of the game, scoring on a 15-yard pass for Bryce Jewell to take a 7-0 lead early.
A quick cover of Fumble by Barrios Brysen set the Lions up with great position on the pitch and Mustain again found the end zone, this time on the ground from one yard to make it 14-0.
Benson’s offense struggled in the first half, committing turnovers on consecutive possessions to open the game.
A Barrios interception again gave the Lions great position on the pitch and they capitalized. Mustain threw a touchdown pass to Jack Butler to make it 21-0.
Mustain had five total touchdowns – three through the air and two on the ground.
Pusch Ridge Head Coach Kent Middleton praised the behavior of his young quarterback.
“Bubba is a very calm and cool customer,” he said. “He is excellent under pressure and has played extremely well all year. Nothing seems to reach him.
Benson relied heavily on two players, senior wide receiver Aiden Finch and run back Colton Tyrafor his offensive production.
Middleton credited his improved running defense from a week ago against Catalina Foothills, when they gave up more than 200 rushing yards, for their dominating defensive effort.
“We will always continue to improve our run defense. We have to make sure we stop the race,” he said. “We did a much better job tonight than last week, but we still have a long way to go.”
The Lions forced another turnover from Benson (3-2), 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 a great week of preparation for his side’s incredible start.
“We had a really good week of training focusing on them. They looked pretty good on film, and they were 3-1, so they got our full attention,” he said. “We had a few breaks at the start of the game tonight with some turnovers and we kept our momentum going.”
Abraham Grajeda and Mustain’s rushing touchdowns in the second quarter gave the Lions a 45-0 halftime lead.
Mustain’s last play of the night might have been his best, rolling to his right into the shadow of his own right and throwing a deep pass to Cody Rafaczwho caught him over the defender and took him 90 yards into the end zone, making it 52-0.
Substitute quarterback Newborn Jacob also added another touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Pusch Ridge then turns to the meat of his schedule, as the Lions go to Thatcher (4-0, 1-0) in a heavyweight battle next week. Middleton acknowledged the level of competition 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’re going high with really big wins in really tough games they’ve had,” he said.
Benson will look to bounce back against Palo Verde (2-3, 0-1) at home next week.
Pusch Ridge is 5-0 for only the fourth time in program history, most recently in 2017 when the Lions lost in the state title game and finished 13-1.
FOLLOW @HMORENOAZ ON TWITTER!
Editorial Intern ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com Harrison Moreno is a Southern Arizona native who has watched Wildcat athletics since he was young. He recently graduated from the University of Arizona School of Journalism, majoring in broadcast and audio journalism.