Thunderbirds defeat Gauchos in high scoring shoot out

By Nick Spooner

Sports Editor

The Glendale Community College football team was defeated in a high-scoring 66-61 shoot-out at the hands of the Mesa Thunderbirds Saturday Sept. 23.

“I thought they played their asses off. I thought they played hard, real physical, and they played with heart right until the very end,” GCC head coach Mickey Bell said.

In a game that featured a combined 1075 yards of total offense and 127 points, it was several defensive plays that seemed to swing momentum from one side to another as both teams tallied three interceptions.

“I feel like we competed hard, real hard. I thought we stayed together as a team,” Gauchos’ cornerback, Devante Loggins, said.

“Defensively, we are still giving up some big plays, and then the turnovers on offense were killing us,” Bell said.

Neither team scored in the first quarter. However, that narrative soon changed, and by the time the first half ended Mesa held a narrow 45-38 lead.

Akil Abdullah played a really solid game for the Gauchos with a total of 294 yards rushing and throwing and six total touchdowns.

“We made some plays. There are a lot of things offensively that I think we can get better at, but overall, I thought we played pretty well. [Mesa is] a good offensive team. They have some big play makers at receiver, but we just had to keep playing,” Bell said.

The Gauchos’ special teams played a huge factor in allowing their offense to light up the score board. Several long kick returns gave the offense a short field to work with seemingly every trip out. The Gauchos also blocked three extra point attempts and one punt.

“I thought our special teams did a great job. Other than one missed kickoff coverage, our kick coverage was great. Our returns were really good. We had several blocked punts and extra points. I thought our special teams could have won us the game,” Bell said.

Before the game, Bell said he wanted to see his team execute and have fun.

“We had fun; I had fun. Wrong end of the score board but we still had a lot of fun, and the players had a lot of fun,” Bell said.

The Gauchos scored late to get back to within five points and had a chance to recover an onside kick with under two minutes to go, but it rolled out of bounds and Mesa took possession. Mesa then went on to run out the reminder of the clock.

“I thought we recovered that onside kick,” Coach Bell said.

The Gauchos are off this week but return home for Homecoming on Saturday Oct. 7. Kickoff is at seven p.m.

Sterling Whitley celebrates as he runs in for a Gauchos touchdown. Photo by Justin Pinzon/ The Voice

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