It was a night where the defenses for both Mendota and Dos Palos must have decided to stay at home.
A shootout last Friday at Frankian Field between the two Westside schools ended with the Broncos coming out on top, 44-41.
“It was one of those crazy games, for sure,” remarked Dos Palos head football coach Rob Calvert. “Mendota couldn’t stop our passing and we couldn’t stop their running. Whoever had the ball last was going to win.”
On top of the wild game that saw both teams go up-and-down the field all night, veteran Mendota head coach Beto Mejia was ejected by officials after a wild 96-yard fumble recovery and touchdown by the Broncos.
Bronco junior quarterback Peyton Van Worth finished with an even 400 yards passing. He connected on four touchdown passes while going 24 for 36 on the evening.
After the Aztecs took an early 7-0 lead on a five-yard touchdown run, Dos Palos tied the score when Van Worth rolled out to his right and hit Sixto Ibarra in stride for a 52-yard touchdown. Mendota went back out in front when senior quarterback Juan Ceja tossed a 38-yard touchdown on a swing pass. Bronco running back Drake Hennagan caught a pass in the flat from Van Worth and rambled untouched to tie the score.
After Mendota regained the lead, 21-14 on a 30 -yard run to end the first quarter, the Broncos immediately tied the game again, this time on a 25-yard pass from Van Worth to Elias Malfabon.
Aztec running back Edgar Larreynaga broke free on a 47-yard touchdown run down the right sideline. However, the point-after kick was no good, giving Mendota a 27-21 lead.
Dos Palos finally took the lead, 28-27 when Van Worth again hit Malfabon, this time on a 35-yard pass with the point-after kick good.
As the third quarter got underway, that is when the fireworks started. Mendota marched down the field, and they were set up at the Dos Palos 27-yard line. Larreynaga headed up the middle and looked like he was going to score. But linebacker Drake Hennagan punched the ball out near the goal line. The ball was snagged by Ruben Chavez, who headed up field untouched for a 94-yard touchdown.
With their coach removed from the field following the wild play and the Broncos taking a 34-27 lead, the Aztecs regained the lead on a seven-yard run by Chris Mejia.
Another key play for the Broncos after Mendota retaking a 35-34 lead was a solid 27-yard field goal by Jesus Bon of Dos Palos.
Both teams continued to trade touchdowns before the Broncos were finally able to hold the Aztecs on downs late in the final quarter and run out the clock.
Calvert said that although the victory wasn’t pretty, he is still extremely happy with the outcome.
“Mendota is a good, tough football team,” he said. “But this win puts us in the driver’s seat to win the West Sierra League.”