By Carson Field
Mesquite and Marcos de Niza weren’t strangers.
And this was clear from the moment teams stepped on the grass. Just three weeks prior to the 4A State Quarterfinal matchup, the conference foes played against one another.
That game, Mesquite cruised to a 28-14 win — and the Wildcats didn’t let them forget. They ran onto the field before kickoff through a banner labeled “been there, done that.”
Whether that banner fired the Padres up or they just prepared well for this grudge match, something clicked on Marcos de Niza’s side. Quarterback Antonio Hernandez pieced together multiple strong drives in the first half, pushing his team to a 20-14 lead at halftime.
After the 15-minute intermission, the Padres picked up right where they left off. A Yakeen Baylis touchdown run extended the Padres’ lead to 26-14.
With just over a quarter to save their season, the Wildcats needed something to change. That’s where four-star quarterback prospect Ty Thompson came in.
He rebounded from his previous two interceptions and took control of Mesquite’s offense. The Wildcats re-took the lead late in the fourth quarter off of back-to-back touchdown runs — one from Thompson, one from running back Chris Hintze.
But this wasn’t the end. After a failed attempt to bleed the clock, Marcos de Niza retained possession of the ball.
Soon after, however, the coffin shut. On the first play of the Padres’ two-minute drill, the Padres fumbled, and the Wildcats recovered.
A few kneels later, Mesquite cemented its spot in the 4A State Semifinals. The Wildcats’ opponent in that round will be Cactus, which defeated Peoria 34-7 on Friday.