YUMA, Ariz. – One seven minute stretch erased a ton of mistakes on Saturday night for the Arizona Western football team. With 34 seconds left in the third quarter, a pick-six flipped a close game on its head for the third-ranked Mats (5-0 overall, 4-0 Western States Football League) against Phoenix College. The Mats ripped off 34 unanswered points to erase a 13-12 deficit and win 46-13. Meanwhile, the defense only allowed 50 yards after halftime and had seven sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss.
The turnaround started with the Matador defense. After a punt pinned Phoenix (2-5 overall, 1-3 WSFL) at the one yard line, the Bears managed four total yards on first and second down. Quarterback Eric Kump dropped back to pass, but AWC’s Darrian Franklin tipped his throw high into the air. AWC linebacker Ismael Richardson caught it at the five and quickly raced to the end zone for a touchdown that put the Mats up 19-13 with 34 seconds left in the quarter.
After the defense forced Phoenix to punt after a three-and-out series, the offense struck immediately. Quarterback Jack Colletto lofted a bomb downfield to Steffon McKnight for an 87-yard touchdown, and the Mats led 26-13 with 14:31 left in the fourth quarter. Colletto went 9-11 for 171 yards and one touchdown along with three rushes for 28 yards and two scores. McKnight hauled in four passes for 133 yards.
The defense again forced Phoenix to punt after three plays, and this time the offense marched down the field in eight plays. Colletto rumbled in for a 29-yard touchdown and a 32-13 lead with 8:50 left.
On Phoenix’s next offensive snap, Pavone Myers fumbled, and Mohamed Diallo recovered it at the Phoenix 31. Matador running back Greg Bell III took the next carry straight up the middle almost untouched for a 31-yard touchdown and a 39-13 lead with 8:24 to play. Bell gained 94 of his 110 yards after halftime.
Phoenix picked up its first first down of second half on the next drive, but the Matador defense tightened up and forced a turnover on downs. After AWC moved down to the 18, the Mats scored again on an unexpected halfback pass from Bell to Jaron Woodyard. A bad snapped bounced backwards 20 yards, and Bell picked the ball up in the backfield. He rolled right and looked downfield where Woodyard was all alone at the 10-yard line. Bell’s pass was right on the money, and Woodyard waltzed into the end zone to make it 46-13. Woodyard had six receptions for 61 yards.
In the first half, Arizona Western coughed up three fumbles in six meaningful possessions. The first led to a 27-yard Phoenix field goal with 9:35 left in the first quarter.
AWC answered with a six play, 70-yard drive of its own. Two long completions to Douglas Johnson moved the ball down to the 10-yard line, and Dejhion Parrish muscled the ball into the end zone two plays later. The Mats missed the extra point but led 6-3 with 6:46 to go in the first quarter.
Phoenix marched right back down the field to retake the lead. Kump found Christian Chavez for an eight-yard touchdown and a 10-6 lead with 3:37 left in the quarter.
Arizona Western retook the lead early in the second quarter. Colletto capped a seven play drive with a six-yard rushing touchdown and a 12-10 lead.
One last first-half Matador turnover gave Phoenix a chance to take the lead headed into halftime. The Mats lost their third fumble, and Phoenix converted it into a 32-yard field goal with 20 seconds left in the half to lead 13-12.
The Mats outgained Phoenix 344-50 in the second half and 539-197 for the game. The defense racked up six sacks and two tackles for loss.
AWC will host Pima Community College next week in a non-conference matchup. Kick-off is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. at Veterans Memorial Stadium, and tickets are only $5 for adults and $3 for seniors and military members. Children 12 and under and AWC students and staff (with current school ID) get in for FREE!
Arizona Western College is one of the top community colleges in Arizona. The college boasts partnerships with all three state universities that include face-to-face classes in Yuma. AWC leads the state in enrollment growth over the past 10 years and handed out more than 2,300 certificates and degrees in 2016-17.