The Corona del Sol Aztecs (2-6) battled to rein the Brophy Broncos (6-2) on homecoming night, but fell short — or long — by mere feet after an incomplete Hail Mary as time expired, falling 28-21.
Corona, desperate for a win to keep 6A playoff chances alive, found the end zone early, but the game unraveled and the Aztecs found themselves down three scores. Corona displayed an internal flame, however, and scored twice in the final quarter, nearly tying the game. After getting a stop with :50 remaining, quarterback Ackerley, receiver Raiden Vines-Bright and company marched down the field to set up a Hail Mary attempt. Ackerley heaved the ball toward the end zone with Aztecs looking for a stroke of luck and Broncos players looking to end the game. The ball was caught, but a mere foot out of the back of the end zone.
Corona dropped its third straight, however, the fight was something coach Jake Barro and his staff were proud of and certainly something to carry over into the weeks to follow.
Vines-Bright, who recently earned four star rating via On3 recruiting, made his return from concussion protocol and was an offensive spark. He finished with five catches for 150 yards and a score, including his 66-yard strike from quarterback Connor Ackerley.
The Brophy Broncos bucked back and scored on a 15-yard run, knotting the game at seven apiece. From there, the Broncos punched in three consecutive scores, breaking the game open, 28-7.
The Aztecs cut into the Broncos’ lead with a 5-yard rushing touchdown from Crew Swearingen. A glimmer of hope still shined, but a turnover on downs and interception seemed to seal the Aztecs’ fate as time continued to bleed.
The Aztecs scored once more as runniong back Nick Mustacchia punched it in from 7 yards out, putting the Aztecs within a touchdown for the tie.
The ensuing onside kick failed and the game seemed to be iced, but the Aztecs showed grit by stopping the Broncos offense and getting the back back with one more shot.
Given the prevent coverage, Barro said the offense took what the defense was giving and finding pockets for short pick ups along the sideline. Fate was not on the Aztecs side, but the heart was.
Corona will travel to Desert Vista for Week 10.