After a disappointing loss to Sunnyside last week, Southridge was in a need of a morale boost.
They got one Friday night. Mason Perez threw for 369 yards and five touchdowns as the Suns held off Pasco 39-27 to open the Mid-Columbia Conference season at Edgar Brown Stadium.
“It was a great battle back and forth,” Suns coach Aaron Sonnichsen said. “As a coach, you love that, you have to strategize. It’s a game of momentum. They took it in the first half and we talked at halftime that we needed to get Big Mo back on our side.”
For Pasco, the loss was a heartbreaker. Senior Efrain Farias ran for 243 yards and three touchdowns and went home empty handed.
“Gosh dang it,” Pasco coach Kevin Jolley said. “I was happy with the way we performed. There were some stretches when you get disappointed. When we get down, usually we are done — we can’t continue. Tonight, we battled back. A couple of calls and a couple of balls that went the other way could have changed things. I’m proud of the way we came back.”
The Suns got off to a great start as Jake Newbry intercepted a pass by Kashon Tate and returned the ball 59 yards for a touchdown just 1 minute, 11 seconds into the game.
Late in the first quarter, Perez hooked up with Peyton Monson — on what would be the first of four touchdowns on the night — for a 48-yard touchdown and a 12-0 lead.
Monson finished the night with 13 catches for 180 yards.
Farias scored the first of his three touchdowns just 55 seconds into the second quarter, using a 17-yard burst to pull his team within 12-7.
“That’s what we need from him every game,” Jolley said of Farias. “We don’t have a lot of kids with experience. We need him to be that guy.”
An interception by Kael Stueckle stalled a Southridge drove in the second quarter, and three plays into the Bulldogs’ drive, Farias broke free for a 45 run. Braxton Bedoya’s PAT kick gave Pasco a 14-12 lead it would keep until the half.
“We came out fast, but we lost the momentum,” said Perez, who threw for 369 yards on the night. “They came at us. It was their homecoming game and they didn’t want to lose. It was great to come out with the win.”
The Suns picked up the pace in the second half, using a 17-yard touchdown strike from Perez to Monson for an 18-14 lead.
Farias and the Bulldogs would answer 4 1/2 minutes later with a 45-yard touchdown run by Farias to go out front 21-18.
“They did not give up at all,” Monson said of the Bulldogs. “They came out and pounded it down our throats.”
Perez kept his composure. He connected with Mikael Failor on three consecutive plays to get into Pasco territory. With 24 seconds remaining in the third, Perez and Monson worked their magic for a 25-21 lead they would not relinquish.
“I never lost my confidence,” Perez said of trailing 21-18. “Those short routes keep them honest and open up the big plays.”
Monson caught a 27-yard touchdown with 9:06 left in the game for a 32-21 lead, only to see Tate rumble over the goal line from a yard out for a five-point game with 4:31 remaining.
The Suns put the game out of reach on their next possession. Perez hooked up with Eric Stayrook for a 50-yard pass play, then two plays later, hit Stayrook for a 9-yard touchdown and a 39-27 lead.
“Eric had a tough first half,” Sonnichsen said. “He missed a few balls, but his second half was the way we envisioned him playing all year.”
Stayrook finished with seven catches for 99 yards.
Pasco will get back after it next week when it hosts Kamiakin, which beat Chiawana 26-20 on Friday.
“They didn’t stop. They continued to battle,” Jolley said of his team. “I’m proud of all of them. We have to stick together and not give up.”
S—Jake Newbry 59 INT return (kick failed)
S—Peyton Monson 48 pass from Mason Perez (kick failed)
P—Efrain Farias 17 run (Braxton Bedoya kick)
P—Farias 45 run (Bedoya kick)
S—Monson 17 pass from Perez (kick failed)
P—Farias 45 run (Bedoya kick)
S—Monson 17 pass from Perez (Kobie Mariscal kick)
S—Monson 27 pass from Perez (Mariscal kick)
P—Kashon Tate 1 run (pass failed)
S—Eric Stayrook 9 pass from Perez (Mariscal kick)
RUSHING — S, Jake Newbry 16-36, Mason Bond 2-9, Perez 3-(minus-3), Ryan Stayrook 3-(minus-2). P, E.Farias 30-243, Tate 8-11, Jose Farias 1-(minus-11), Avery Burrows 1-3.
PASSING — S, Perez 28-39-1-369. P, Tate 10-26-2-104, E.Farias 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING — S, Monson 13-180, E.Stayrook 7-99, Mikael Failor 5-61, Newbry 1-12, Mark Meier 2-17. P, Isaiah Gomez 5-49, J.Farias 1-19, E.Farias 1-9, Burrows 1-6, Brandon Scott 2-21.