Sunnyside's Mike Smith (top) flies over and on Glendale Mountain Ridge's Jordan Scott, helping bring him down in the second half. The Blue Devils lost to Mountain Ridge, 24-20.

VAL CANEZ/Tucson Citizen 

First-half lead by Sunnyside evaporates in tough defeat

Tucson Citizen 

Sunnyside High School suffered the wrath of the Mountain Lions in the second half.

Visiting Glendale Mountain Ridge erupted for 21 points in the final two quarters and came from behind twice to slap a scrappy Sunnyside bunch with a thrilling 24-20 defeat last night.

The game was the Class 5A season opener for the teams.

"At halftime, we talked about what kind of heart we had," Mountain Ridge coach Steve Bell said. "We finally rose to their (Sunnyside's) intensity level in the second half." 

Sunnyside finished the first half in control, thanks to touchdown runs of 3 and 40 yards by halfback Jovan Stevenson in the second quarter. The sophomore speedster dashed for 71 of his game-high 117 yards in the first half.

"We gave them the momentum in the second half," Stevenson said. "We gave them back life."

To open the second half, the Mountain Lions took the football at their 35-yard line and used 10 plays to march 65 yards for their first touchdown, a 2-yard plunge by bruising fullback Matt Pickering.

That sliced the Blue Devils' lead to 13-10 at the 7:30 mark of the third quarter.

Mountain Ridge took the lead less than three minutes later when senior cornerback Jason San Martin blocked a punt by Sunnyside's Carlos Encinas on the Blue Devils' ensuing possession. The ball bounced in the Sunnyside end zone, where San Martin fell on it.

"The mistakes we made was the difference," Sunnyside coach Richard Sanchez said.

After a 1-yard touchdown run by Sunnyside's Michael Smith, the Mountain Lions took the lead for good when Josh Morrow scored on a 54-yard pass from Chris Johnson.