EPHRAIM—The parity of the Western States Football League became apparent last Saturday Sept. 17 when the Mesa Thunderbirds came to Ephraim and stunned the Snow College Badgers with a 33-19 win.
The Badgers were ranked No. 1 in the nation going into the game, but turned the ball over four times to allow the T-birds to steal the win.
“Turnovers. I think that’s going to be a big key,” said Badger coach Britt Maughn before the game. Snow lost that battle 6-2.
The first quarter was a defensive battle, but the Badgers were first on the board when they got a 22-yard field goal by Austin Pulver. Mesa answered with a TD to take the 6-3 lead, but Snow cut the lead to one on a safety.
An interception by Mesa went for a pick-six and a T-bird field goal with seconds left in the first half, giving Mesa a 16-5 lead at the intermission.
Mesa found the end zone twice more before the Badgers scored their first touchdown of the game on a 4-yard run by Arlonzo Simpson. Mesa booted another field goal to go ahead 33-19. Snow scored the final TD of the game on a 26-yard pass from Justin Miller to Simpson, but it was too little too late, and the Badgers saw their hopes of an unblemished record come to an end.
The T-birds offense is pass-oriented, and their 292 yards in the air were no surprise. Trailing most of the game and getting only 34 net yards running in the game, the Badgers were also forced to throw. Although Miller completed 27 of 51 passes for 325 yards, he faced constant pressure from the T-bird defense and was sacked six times.
Josh Labrador led the Badger running game with 29 yards, Brian Waiters had 24, and Simpson rushed for 14.
Simpson was also the leading receiver with nine catches for 108 yards. Ruben Saint Jean had 67 yards, Labrador had 63 and Chandler Frischknecht had 24.
Dax Eisinger led the defense with 8.5 tackles, Jantz Arbon had 7.5 and Alani Pututua had seven.
This week the Badgers will host Air Force in a non-league game on Saturday with kickoff scheduled for 1 p.m.