It couldn’t have been a nicer night out at John D. Riggs Stadium as the balloons were flying and the stands were full in anticipation for the T-Birds’ homecoming game against Phoenix College.
Unfortunately mistakes ended up highlighting the night and it was early and often for the team.
Two fumbles in the first quarter, one on a muffed punt and another on a sack, led to short field for Phoenix twice early in the game. Phoenix capitalized on them, scoring on a 25-yard pass and a 10-yard sweep play, making it 14-0 at the end of the first quarter.
MCC cornerback Tyrell Pearson caused and recovered a fumble on Phoenix’s first drive of the second quarter, setting the T-Birds up with great field position. A run by Michael Allen set up a QB-sneak touchdown run by Justin Sieczkowski to make the score 7-14 and gave MCC some momentum.
But a fumble on a punt in their own end zone by Mesa, their fourth turnover, made the score 21-7 for Phoenix.
The T-Birds came right back with a big 57-yard touchdown pass from Sieczkowski to receiver Tristan McClelland, making the score 14-21.
McClelland and Sieczkowski were on the same page all night as McClelland was the main source of T-Birds’ offense through the air and looked like the best athlete outside for the team.
But, another fumbled punt by Mesa set up Phoenix with an easy 3-yard touchdown run, making the score 28-14 at the half.
The half finished with six turnovers total for the T-Birds and without the defense forcing two turnovers of their own, the team could have easily been out of the game.
After another early touchdown by Phoenix, MCC didn’t lie down, but they rallied to get back in the game.
Pearson had two interceptions, one of which he returned inside Phoenix’s red zone.
“I watched that play a lot in film and I saw it coming and I jumped the route,” Pearson said. “It felt real good to get a couple picks.”
Two touchdown runs by Allen brought the T-Birds within a score of Phoenix.
The T-birds had two possessions to tie the game, but both times they were denied, one was on a fumble and another was a turnover on downs.
That would be Mesa’s seventh turnover of the night. MCC finished the game 28-35 with Phoenix College on top.
“Like any business it starts at the top. I need to take more accountability and I need to do more to make this team successful. It starts with me and filters on down,” head coach Greg Croshaw said following the game. “I have no answer for guys who have never dropped a punt, and they both do, or for turnovers in your own end zone. This is the job I was hired to do and I haven’t done a very good job of it so far.”