It was another heartbreaking loss for Rio Rico High Friday night—this time, 34-29 at the hands of the Tombstone Yellow Jackets.
Neither team had any difficulty scoring in the contest, meaning the difference in the game was defense.
The Hawks’ defense, though, struggled all night missing many tackles and frequently giving up long runs on first downs.
Rio Rico was close to taking the lead at the start of the 4th quarter when the Tombstone defense forced receiver Dan Gastellum to fumble the ball after a 9-yard completion. The Yellow Jackets promptly drove down the field for a touchdown, putting them up by two scores.
Rio Rico, though, showed signs of pulling off a miracle in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter when the Hawks converted a 4th and 29 inside their own 5 yard line and drove the length of the field on excellent passing by quarterback Mark Gastellum, and scored on another fourth down with a touchdown pass to brother Dan Gastellum in the face of blitzing Yellow Jackets.
The ensuing onside kick, however, was recovered by Tombstone and they were able to run out the clock to end the Hawks' comeback.
Rio Rico has lost its last two games by a total of 12 points, which is a significant improvement from last season.
On the night, Rio Rico’s Aaron Fanning had 6 carries for 86 yards and a touchdown. Fanning also caught 7 receptions for 116 yards, while Dan Gastellum had 8 receptions for 110 yards and 2 TDs. Mark Gastellum completed 15 of 23 passes for 226 yards, 2 TDs and no interceptions.
On defense, Marco Alegria led the Hawks with 9 tackles, but the Yellow Jackets secured 23 first down to Rio Rico’s 18 and totaled 391 yards of total offense to the Hawks’ 390. They also sacked Mark Gastellum three times.
The Hawks also turned the ball over twice on the night but took four less penalties than Tombstone during week six.
In week seven, Rio Rico (2-4) is slated to host Nogales High (5-1) on Friday. Nogales lost last Friday night to Sahuarita, 47-33, for its first defeat of the season. After shutting out three of its first five opponents, Sahuarita’s offensive tally was 14 points more than the Apaches had given up previously all season.