YUMA, Ariz. – The Arizona Western football team closed out the regular season in style on Saturday afternoon. The second-ranked Mats (9-0 overall, 7-0 Western States Football League) scored two long touchdowns in their first four offensive plays. The Matador defense shut down 19th-ranked Scottsdale and held the Artichokes to 27 total yards in the first half as the Mats romped to a 66-14 win.
The win caps a second straight WSFL title and second straight undefeated regular season for AWC. Now the Mats will wait to see what happens in the NJCAA poll on Monday to determine if they will play for the NJCAA Football Championship for the second straight season. The top three teams in the poll all won on Saturday. Bowl teams cannot be announced until Tuesday.
Greg Bell III kick-started the blowout with a 67-yard touchdown on AWC’s second play from scrimmage. Scottsdale punted, and Dejhion Parrish tore through the secondary for an 83-yard touchdown two plays later. The two backs combined for a whopping 325 rushing yards total in the game as they repeatedly gashed Scottsdale’s defense. AWC ran for 464 yards and averaged 11.9 yards per carry.
Meanwhile, the Matador defense didn’t give up almost anything. Scottsdale’s offense struggled in the first half and only mustered 27 total yards against the swarming Matador defense.
Parrish slashed through the defense again with 6:32 to go in the second quarter for a 63-yard touchdown and a 24-0 lead. The sophomore averaged 26.6 yards per carry and now has five touchdowns in the last two weeks.
Near the end of the half, AWC used a nine-play drive to chew up 4:21. Jack Colletto punched the ball home for a one-yard touchdown and a 31-0 lead with 37 seconds to go.
Scottsdale picked up its only first down of the half on its following possession, but a sack ended the half.
The Artichoke offense showed life to start the second half once four straight completions put them inside the Matador 30. Ismael Richardson snuffed out that hope by picking off Grayson Barry and taking it 80 yards for a touchdown and a 38-0 lead.
AWC’s Bryce Beekman picked off Barry on Scottsdale’s 42-yard line on Barry’s next pass. Bell ripped off a 22-yard run before throwing a pass on the next play to a wide open Jaron Woodyard for a 20-yard touchdown. It was Bell’s second touchdown pass this season, both to Woodyard, and this one gave the Mats a 45-0 lead.
Two plays later, Barry dropped a snap, and Tyrik Jones scooped it up and scored from 11 yards out. Jones, the WSFL Defensive Player of the Week, has scored a touchdown in two straight games.
Scottsdale did score a pair of touchdowns once the score was out of hand. With less than four minutes left in the third quarter, backup quarterback I’Zjaier Sanders chucked a bomb to Khaliq Muhammad. Late in the fourth quarter, Sanders again found Muhammad open deep for a 60-yard touchdown.
After the first Scottsdale touchdown, the Mats responded with their longest drive of the game. AWC marched 76 yards in 12 plays, and Colletto lofted a perfect pass to Chyrome Thorpe in the back corner of the end zone for a 16-yard touchdown. It was Thorpe’s first touchdown of the year.
Ali Kelley scored the last Matador touchdown with four minutes left in the fourth quarter. The freshman running back broke out for a 52-yard touchdown, his second TD of the season.
AWC wide receiver Steffon McKnight had one of his best games with 10 receptions for 142 yards. Bryce Perkins was an efficient 15-17 for 171 yards, and Colletto went 5-8 for 45 yards with a touchdown.
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.