By Narciso Thomas Villarreal
Photo by Ed Adams
The Pima Community College football team hung around with New Mexico Military Institute in the first half but was eventually blown away.
The Broncos from Roswell, N.M., handed the Aztecs their fifth consecutive loss overall with their 35-7 victory on a chilly Saturday night at Tucson Electric Park on Oct. 23.
“We’re not a very good football team right now,” head coach Patrick Nugent said. “We just got to figure out a way to try to keep playing.”
With the loss, the Aztecs remain winless against opponents in the Western States Football League since 2004. The Aztecs’ last winning record against conference opponents was also in 2004 when they finished 6-3.
This year, Pima trailed 21-7 at halftime, but the deficit would increase after NMMI scored 14 more points in the third quarter.
Pima finished the game with 219 total yards of offense.
The Aztecs’ only score of the game came when sophomore running back Auburá Taylor returned a kickoff from the Broncos for 85 yards for a touchdown.
The Broncos had 371 yards in the game.
“We just didn’t really execute on offense or defense side of the ball,” sophomore defensive middle linebacker Brent Lush said after the game. “It’s another heartbreaker. I didn’t really feel that they were a better team than us, that’s for sure.”
After the loss, Pima fell to 2-6, 0-5 WSFL. The Broncos forfeited two games, this season, one non-conference and one WSFL game, due to using an ineligible player, so their record is a deceiving 3-6.
On Oct. 16, the worst team in the WSFL, Mesa Community College defeated Pima 22-21.
“Mistakes came back and cost us,” Nugent said. “It was a tough defeat. We played well, put up a lot of numbers offensively, and the defense really played a great game.”
Pima had two back-breaking misplayed snaps that both times went over the punter’s head and led to points for Mesa.
One of the bad snaps put Mesa on the Pima 10-yard line, and the Thunderbirds capitalized with a touchdown. The other bad snap resulted in a safety, giving MCC two points in the fourth quarter.
The Aztecs also fumbled the ball five times but mostly recovered it, lost it only once.
Pima freshman quarterback Zach Schira was intercepted before the first half came to an end. The ball was taken back 96 yards for a Thunderbirds’ touchdown.
“We outplayed them the whole game,” Nugent said. “We were a better football team than them. If you take away our miscues, we would’ve won that game easily.”
Pima had 359 total offensive yards, with 131 passing yards and 228 rushing yards.
Freshman quarterback Zander McKean started the game and finished 7-18 for 126 passing yards.
McKean’s sole touchdown pass was completed to Taylor.
Schira completed one pass in three attempts for five passing yards and was intercepted once.
Pima had 228 total rushing yards in 41 total rushing attempts.
Taylor earned both of Pima’s rushing touchdowns in the game as he ran for 81 yards in four carries. He finished with 268 all-purpose yards on the night.
The Thunderbirds gained 201 total offensive yards against the Aztecs’ defense.
Freshman defensive back Adrian Brahler had an interception.
“In reality, the defense only gave up three points all night,” Nugent said. “The defense gave the offense plenty of opportunities to score.”
Pima will head north to Ephraim, Utah, to face No. 17 Snow College on Saturday, Oct. 30, at 1:30 p.m. The Aztecs will leave for the 700-mile, 12 hour bus trip on Friday, Oct. 29.
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