by STEVEN FOWLER
The Pima Community College football team (7-4) fell short in its bid to claim the program’s first Western States Football League championship on Saturday.
The No. 3 seeded Aztecs lost at No. 1 Snow College 26-16 in Ephraim, Utah. This was the second time in three games that the Aztecs traveled to play Snow.
Facing an early 13-0 deficit in the second quarter, freshman Nathan Farmer broke the shutout with a 36-yard field goal at the 7:07 mark.
Down 16-3, the Aztecs began a drive on their 24-yard line with 1:27 left in the half. Freshman Darrell Clark made a catch for 27 yards and another for 12 yards to put the Aztecs in the red zone. Sophomore Deontay Townsend scored a two-yard rushing touchdown to make it 16-10 at halftime.
After a defensive struggle in the third quarter, Snow struck first with a touchdown in the fourth quarter to make it 23-10. After a punt by Pima, Snow extended their lead to 26-10 after Vance “Moose” Bingham kicked a 50-yard field goal with 10:58 remaining in the game.
The Aztecs punted on their first five possessions of the second half until Townsend scored on a two-yard rushing touchdown, his second of the game with 1:36 left. The Aztecs failed to capitalize on a potential two-point conversion and tried an onside kick but Snow recovered. Townsend finished with 34 yards on 12 carries.
Sophomore Donovan Moore went 2-for-6 with 51 passing yards including an interception. Sophomore Kian Homme went 11-for-24 with 114 passing yards. The Pima quarterbacks were sacked nine times. Sophomore Wesley Payne led the Aztecs with eight tackles while freshman Paul Davies had six tackles.
Second-year head coach Jim Monaco was named ACCAC Coach of the Year after leading the Aztecs to a 7-4 overall record, the program’s best record since 2004 when they finished 9-3. Monaco was selected WSFL Co-Coach of the Year along with Snow College’s Britt Maughan.
“This is one of the best years of coaching that I’ve ever had. These kids have worked so hard, we’re so injured and yet they played this kind of game against the No. 3 team in the country,” Monaco said. “I have nothing but pride for my kids. This season has meant everything.”
Pima hopes to play in a bowl game, which is currently undecided. We will keep you updated.
“I love them and they’re awesome kids,” Monaco said.
Sophomore linebacker Wesley Payne was named WSFL and ACCAC Defensive Player of the Year after leading the NJCAA with 149 tackles. Payne led the ACCAC with 13.5 tackles per game and was second in the NJCAA. He was also named first team All-WSFL and All-ACCAC first team.