AJHS Nips Vista Grande, Snaps 2-game Losing Streak
By Daniel Dullum
The Prospectors had to come from behind twice to do it, but Apache Junction outlasted Vista Grande 39-33 in a non-region 4A football contest Friday at Casa Grande, snapping a two-game losing streak.
AJ’s defense forced four Spartan turnovers, including a fumble recovery on a kickoff return late in the game. An interception by Talon Izbicki with time running out sealed the win for the Prospectors (2-2). The loss evened Vista Grande’s slate at 2-2.
Apache Junction was down 19-6 in the second quarter before tying the game at 19-19 going into halftime.
“In the first half, we had a number of calls, especially pass interference, that didn’t go our way,” Prospectors coach Vance Miller said. “So we told the kids at halftime that we have to play as clean as we can, and we need to play better.”
The Prospectors gained momentum in the third quarter, forcing two Vista Grande turnovers and eventually surging ahead 26-25. The lead see-sawed for the rest of the second half before AJ’s final TD snapped at 33-33 deadlock.
“I was really proud of how the kids came back and fought right down to the end,” Miller said. “We’re still banged up, but nobody left the field. Everybody played hard right to the final horn.”
In the scoring column for AJ was Justin Fabritz with a defensive touchdown, Justin Ramirez scored two TDs – one rushing and one on a pass from Gibson Limongello, who scored a pair of rushing touchdowns, and William Lohman caught a TD pass from Limongello.
Ramirez also had a 2-point conversion, and Chazz Chavez hit 1 of 2 extra-point kicks.
After this Friday’s bye, the Prospectors continue their season on Sept. 21 against Phoenix South Mountain at Davis Field.
“The good news is there were a few dings here and there, but no big injuries, and it was good to finally get (defensive lineman) Max Farris back in the lineup,” Miller said. “We have our bye week coming up, which will help everybody heal up, and we’ll be ready for Shadow Mountain.”