YUMA, Ariz. – Seven interceptions kept the Arizona Western football team afloat on Saturday night against Pima. The second-ranked Mats (6-0 overall) picked off Pima (2-6 overall) six times to end drives and once on a two-point conversion to help preserve a wild 28-23 win in Yuma.
Bryce Beekman effectively ended the game with his third interception of the night with 1:05 to play. The pick stuffed a Pima team that had all the momentum after scoring to cut the lead to 28-23 and recovering an onside kick with 1:24 to play. After Pima moved it to the 21-yard line, Ronson Young looked open up the middle. Pima’s quarterback KC Moore threw it into the end zone, but Beekman snatched it away from Young.
The Matador offense managed to grind out the final 1:05, and Jack Colletto ran out the final six seconds on fourth down for the win.
AWC picked off a whopping six passes after halftime as Pima tried to push the ball down the field. With AWC leading 21-17 in the third quarter, Beekman broke on a route and snared his first pick of the game with 6:49 to play. He took the ball down to Pima’s 18 to set up the Matador offense.
Four plays later, Jack Colletto dove in for a one-yard touchdown and a 28-17 lead. He led the team with 94 rushing yards on 11 carries.
Darrian Franklin, Beekman and Jordan Ellis all picked off passes to end three of Pima’s next four possessions (the other ended with a punt), but the Matador offense stalled out.
With 2:28 to go in the fourth quarter, Pima got hot and made things interesting. Moore went 4-5 for 61 yards, and he found running back Tiger Geeslin on a screen for a 39-yard score that cut the lead to 28-23. AWC linebacker Ismael Richardson intercepted the two-point attempt to keep the Matadors up by five with 1:24 to play.
Pima’s Coby Oswalt dribbled an onside kick the required 10 yards, and the Aztecs managed to come out of the pile with the football to set their offense up with one final shot from their own 47-yard line. Moore moved the team to the Matador 21 before Beekman’s interception.
At the start of the game, AWC seemed like it would run away with it. On the team’s third possession, quarterback Bryce Perkins fooled everyone on a zone read. He kept it himself and raced past everyone for a 70-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead with 11:07 to play in the first quarter.
AWC cornerback Elijah Blades picked off Moore and raced to the end zone for a 54-yard touchdown on Pima’s next possession, and the Mats led 14-0 with 9:50 left in the first quarter.
Moore answered with an 11-play touchdown drive on Pima’s next possession. Moore found Bryson Ventura for an eight-yard touchdown that trimmed the lead to 14-7.
After the Mats punted, Moore tossed a screen to Ronson Young. Young took it 68-yards to the house, and the extra point tied the game at 14.
A few possessions later, AWC wide receiver Douglas Johnson set up a touchdown with a 37-yard catch and run down to the two-yard line. Colletto pounded it across the goal line for a 21-14 lead.
Pima trimmed the lead to 21-17 on the first possession after halftime with a 32-yard field goal.
AWC heads to Glendale Community College next week for their final road game of the regular season. Kick-off is set for 7:00 p.m. The game will be broadcast on 560 AM KBLU with the pregame show going live at 6:50.
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.