When Cienega kicker Robert Griffith lined up for a 40-yard field goal attempt with 1:54 left in the first round of the Division II playoffs on Nov. 2, it looked like the Bobcats would regain the lead, and likely avenge their regular-season loss to Mountain View.
After all, Griffith had set a school-record with four field goals during their first encounter in the regular season.
Griffith kicked it towards the left. It looked like it might stay inside the left goal post, but it drifted just outside.
With that miss, Mountain View went on to a 19-17 win, as the Mountain Lions (#9) defeated Cienega (#8) once again.
“Our defense played great assignment football,” said Mountain Lion coach Clarence McRae. “We had enough plays to win.”
Going into the fourth quarter, the Mountain Lions trailed 17-13, but quarterback Cody Rochon ran five yards for a touchdown with 8:23 to regain the lead.
Mountain View had taken over at mid-field after an interception by Austin Trebilcock, one of his two in the game. The big play on the drive was a 52-yard pass from Rochon to Zach Ayers.
“It was my first time with two interceptions,” Trebilcock said. “I dove for the ball, and luckily got to it. Even when we were behind, I knew it wasn’t over yet.”
The Mountain Lions defense, which has been their cornerstone all season, played another good game. Cienega did score two touchdowns. However, to say that the defense allowed them would be inappropriate. The Bobcats blocked a punt in the second quarter, which set them up at the Mountain View 28-yard line. A few plays later, Adriell Alvarado connected with Diavanni Johnson for a 32-yard touchdown and a 10-7 lead.
But the killer came when Neil Kimberlin returned a punt 75 yards down to the Mountain Lion 5-yard line. A few plays later, Alvarado hooked up with Luke Holley for a 10-yard touchdown pass with 22 seconds left in the half for a 17-7 Cienega lead.
“Special teams came back to bite us,” McRae said.
But defensively, Mountain View held Cienega to 131 yards rushing, and only 74 yards passing.
Quarterback Alvarado, who’d played very well since the first Mountain View game, was just 8-19 with three interceptions.
On the other side, Rochon was 6-13 for 104 yards, one touchdown pass and one touchdown run.
The Bobcats got one final chance to win the game in the final minute.
After forcing a three-and-out, the Bobcats got the ball back at their own 43-yard line.
Alvarado ran for three yards, but then on third down, he was sacked by Zach Ayers for a 10-yard loss. Pass interference gave the Bobcats a first down at mid-field and time for one last play. Alvarado went back to pass and heaved it downfield, and Trebilcock came up with his second interception.
“Our defense can adjust to anything,” Ayers said.
Ayers became a secret weapon, especially on offense on this day, as the Bobcats seemed to focus their efforts on stopping Richie Estrada.
Estrada finished third among Southern Arizona running backs with 1,522 yards and 17 touchdowns. The Bobcats held him to 68 yards on 13 carries.
“They did a great job stopping our sweeps,” McRae said. “We had to go to other things.”
The Mountain Lions got back into the game in the third on a 42-yard touchdown run by Estrada. The kick failed, but the gap was closed to 17-13.
Ayers caught a 25-yard touchdown pass from Rochon for the first Mountain Lions score and a 7-3 lead early in the second quarter.
It was a 52-yard pass to Ayers that set up Rochon’s winning touchdown in the fourth.
“Our offensive linemen did a great job,” Ayers said. “I can’t say it enough.” Ayers finished with two catches for 77 yards.
Trebilcock is excited about Friday’s second-round game.
“I’m always excited to play Salpointe,” Trebilcock said. “We’ll try to get the win and go to the next round of the playoffs.”
The reward is that the Mountain Lions advance to the second round, and they will travel to Salpointe on Friday to play the top-ranked Lancers.
The Lancers won their first playoff game, 45-9, over 16th-seeded Scottsdale Notre Dame.