"We had to throw a little more in the first half than I would have
liked, because we were in a lot of second-and-long situations due to
penalties," Perkins said. "But, in the second half, we felt like we could
go after them and wear them down. And that was pretty much the way it
went. We controlled the ball in both halves."
The Mustangs piled up nearly 32 minutes in time of possession, the
most in the school's last 29 games, and finished with 220 yards on the
The most important ground assault, however, came in the final 4:48,
after the Mesa defense stuffed the Artists on fourth down.
Faced with the opportunity to protect its eight-point lead, created
when Keola Asuega scored from a yard out with 7:15 left in the game,
Mesa's offense responded.
"Laguna Beach had 11 guys in the box trying to stop our run and we
still got first downs," Perkins said. "I think we converted three third
downs in that final possession to run out the clock.
"That was huge," Perkins added of the final possession, which helped
the Mustangs improve to 5-2, 1-1 in league. I can't say enough about our
That offensive line of guards Andrew Carich and Robert McQueen, center
Brett Via, as well as tackles James Paulsen and Brian Rayner, helped pave
the way for a balanced cast of ball carriers that included Asuega (89
yards on 17 carries), Nick Cabico (61 yards on 14 attempts), Freddy
Rodriguez (seven carries for 47 yards) and Omar Ruiz (35 yards on three
Perkins was generous with praise for his defense, which finally seems
to have settled into the four-three scheme that replaced the double flex
after the third game.
"I think the change has solidified things for us," Perkins said.
Nick Cabico and Luis Gonzalez had interceptions and Perkins credited
undersized tackles Doug Amburgey (5-foot-7, 155 pounds) and Benedick
David (5-6, 160) for wreaking havoc with the Laguna Beach running game.
"Our two little biddy guys were awesome," Perkins said. "Their
quickness helped them get in the (Laguna Beach) backfield and they really
caused some problems."
Amburgey recovered a fumble to help increase the Mustangs' turnover
ratio to plus 14.
"We do a lot of tackling drills that emphasize sticking your head on
the football, or the second guy coming in and trying to knock the ball
free," Perkins said. It's working out really well for us."