Story by Narciso Thomas Villarreal
Photos by Ed Adams
Video by Lindsey Weldon
The Pima Community College football squad ended its 29-game overall losing streak with a 17-14 road-victory against the Phoenix College Bears on Sept. 4, but then lost its second game.
The Aztecs (1-1) lost their home opener on Sept. 11 against No. 16 Eastern Arizona College 42-14 a week after the win.
The win over Phoenix was the Aztecs’ first victory since Aug. 25, 2007, when they defeated a semi-pro Verde Valley team 63-2. Pima gained 257 offensive yards against Phoenix, with 76 passing yards and 181 rushing yards.
“It was an emotional high, but we kind of rode it out too long, and we weren’t too prepared this week, obviously,” sophomore safety Griffin Ronstadt said after the Eastern game.
Ronstadt intercepted two Phoenix passes and returned one for 53 yards. The National Junior College Athletic Association named him the defensive national player of the week for games Sept. 2 through Sept. 5.
“That’s huge for our school,” head coach Pat Nugent said. “Pima football has been non-existent for a long time. Just to get our name to national prestige is great.”
The win against Phoenix also ended the Aztecs’ 48-game losing streak against college teams. Pima’s last win against a college team was in 2004, when they beat No. 4 Kilgore College in the Pilgrim’s Pride Bowl.
“It was a fun win last week, it was exciting,” Nugent said after the Sept. 11 game.
Freshman quarterbacks Zander McKean and Zach Schira shared time behind the center against the Bears. The two threw for a combined 7-16, with McKean going 3-7 for 22 yards and Schira going 4-9 for 54 yards.
The Aztecs struck first after sophomore running back Ronald Hopper scored a Pima’s first touchdown of the season on a one-yard run. Freshman kicker Adam Valenzuela added a 39-yard field goal in the third quarter for the Aztecs.
Sophomore running back Andy Garcia scored Pima’s game-winning points with a four-yard touchdown run. Garcia led PCC’s rushing attack with 80 yards in eight carries.
Damion Bracy, a freshman running back for the Aztecs, finished second in Pima’s rushing game with 49 yards in five carries.
Pima’s freshman wide receiver Chris Howard led the Aztecs in receiving with four catches for 28 yards on the night.
A week later, Gila Monsters from Eastern Arizona College spoiled Pima’s home opener at Tucson Electric Park with a 42-14 victory on Sept. 11.
“We didn’t have a very good game, we didn’t have a very good week of practice,” Nugent said. “We were pretty excited about our win, but we didn’t come out to work this week.”
After a quarter and a half, No. 16 EAC went up 14-0. Pima scored their first points after Garcia scored on a 59-yard passing play before the first half ended.
PCC scored their final points of the game to tie the game at 14 after the defense recovered a fumble and scored a touchdown early in the third quarter.
After the game was tied at 14, the Gila Monsters stepped on the gas pedal and scored 28 unanswered points to put Pima away and pick up the road victory.
“Everything that could have gone wrong, went wrong,” sophomore offensive lineman Erick Marquez said. “We could have put more heart out there.”
The Aztecs had a total of 167 yards offensively, with 96 passing yards and 71 rushing yards.
Sophomore wide receiver Scott Campbell led the Aztecs in air with two catches for 33 yards.
Freshman wide receiver Ty Minkin led PCC in rushing with 29 yards on the ground.
Pima will play its final non-conference game on Sept. 18, when they host New Mexico Prep. School at TEP at 7 p.m.
Tickets are $6 for non-students and $4 for students.
Milestone Pima football wins
Aug. 25, 2001: Pima Storm beats defending national champion Glendale Community College 28-20 in their first game
Dec. 4, 2004: Storm beats No. 4 Kilgore College 10-7 in the Pilgrim’s Pride Bowl
Aug. 25, 2007: Aztecs snap 19-game losing streak, beating Verde Valley 63-2
Sept. 4: Aztecs snap 29-game losing streak by beating Phoenix College 17-14
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