If nothing else, the 2017 version of the Perry football team has certainly shown a flair for the dramatic in their first two contests. One week after scoring twice in the final five minutes to steal a 28-21 win from North Polk, the Bluejays returned an interception for a touchdown, surrendered a late score, but then knocked away a short pass in the end zone on the final play from scrimmage to defeat Nevada, 21-14, at Dewey Field Friday.
Perry held a 21-14 lead with 2:42 to play when Nevada — which had just scored on a 1-yard run on fourth down — went, as all expected, for an onside kick. The play worked, and the Cubs promptly marched to the Bluejay 17-yard line with 13.5 seconds left. One pass fell incomplete, setting the stage for a final, decisive play.
Quarterback Macade Matuska dropped back and tried for a lobbing pass to Matt Chitty in the back of the end zone. Perry defensive back Manasses Martinez cut off Chitty’s route, then — despite giving away many inches in height — knocked the ball free from Chitty’s hands as both fell to the turf, preserving the win.
“We’ve been practicing all week throwing up lobs and defending them, so I was prepared,” Martinez said. “I knew they were going to throw to me, too. They were trying to throw to the other side but it wasn’t working so I knew they were going to try and test me. I knew he (Matsuka) was going to try and roll out and try and throw something, so I just went up and …”
That Martinez was defending a possible tying and not a potential game-winning touchdown was do to another key play by the Perry defense, as Donald Chavez ran under a tipped pass and returned his interception 35 yards for a touchdown with 9:14 to play.
“I saw Janier (Puente, a senior defensive end) had the quarterback and saw someone on defensive line tip it,” Chavez said of his pick-six. “I saw 18 (Cubs receiver Omunique Wilkerson) coming at it and just undercut him, grabbed it and spun and did what I could do.”
The first half was a back and forth affair that ended with both teams showing offensive promise, but with neither able to crack the end line.
Nevada was on the board first, with Preston Cattanach running through a tackle and bursting 25 yards off right tackle with 6:42 left in the third quarter. Jack Cahill hit the PAT to make the score 7-0.
The lead lasted just over two minutes. Bluejay quarterback Adan Medina — who had lost a fumble trying to spin out of two tackles and into the end zone early in the frame — dropped back from his eight-yard line, received a solid pocket from his offensive line, and hit tight end Puente over the middle. German Alvarenga’s PAT tied the contest.
Perry scored just over a minute into the fourth quarter when Medina rolled right from the three-yard line. Right tackle Devon Archer provided a solid rolling pocket, allowing Medina to throw a perfectly-placed pass in the right flat to Brandon Kenyon, who hauled in the pigskin for his first varsity touchdown. Alvarenga’s kick gave Perry a 14-7 lead, with Chavez’s theft less than two minutes later pushing the Bluejay margin to 21-7.
Nevada showed plenty of mettle by marching off on an 80-yard drive, a journey that required 17 plays and included overcoming two costly penalties but which consumed six-and-a-half minutes. The Cubs avoided what appeared to be a lost fumble late in the drive, cashing in on a fourth-and-goal from a yard away when Matsuka bulled in over center to close their deficit to 21-14.
Perry defensive end Archer made a key four-yard loss on a misdirection hand off, with tackle Tyler Soll bursting free up the middle and squashing Matsuka for a big loss that appeared to imperil the drive.
However, a controversial defensive pass interference call against the Jays moved the ball within comfortable striking distance, with Nevada reaching the five yard line with 13.4 seconds to play. An incomplete pass set up the final play, with Perry prevailing, setting off a wild celebration as the Bluejay bench raced to the east end zone to celebrate the victory.
Medina was solid again at quarterback, and while tossing one interception and fumbling on an extra-effort attempt to score, the senior finished 6-of-10 for 72 yards and two scores through the air. He rushed 16 times for 66 yards and also led the team on defense with 10.5 tackles.
Puente’s one catch was the aforementioned score, with Kenyon adding an eight-yard catch to his scoring snare. Reece Dunlap had two catches for 33 yards while Chavez grabbed one pass for 20 yards while also rushing 12 times for 49 yards.
Dunlap and Brandon Juarez played key roles in the return game, with each totaling 53 yards. Juarez returned a punt 20 yards and a kick 33 yards, with Dunlap having returns of 37 with a punt and of 16 with a kick off.
Puente and Grant Eklund had nine tackles apiece, with Puente making three sacks and recovering a fumble while deflecting three passes. Chavez had 8.5 tackles, Soll 6.5 and three sacks and Archer five stops while Ethan McFarland added a fumble recovery to his 3.5 denials.
This story will be updated with Nevada statistics once they are made available.
Perry begins District 2 action Friday with a trip to Ballard. The Bombers have won twice on the road to open the season, ripping Carlisle, 47-21, before topping ADM, 39-25, Friday. They have rushed for 708 yards and thrown for 280, with Hunter Wright scoring five TDs and carrying 47 times for 387 yards through two games.
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