There's another milestone now listed in the first chapter of Mike Lapsley's tenure as head coach of the Coconino Panthers football program.
Zach Bennett scored three rushing touchdowns to go with 181 yards on the ground, Coconino's defense allowed just 115 total yards of offense and the Panthers spoiled Bradshaw Mountain's Homecoming on Friday in Prescott Valley, beating the Bears for the first time since 1998 while improving to 5-0 for the first time since '93.
The Panthers used big plays to jump out on the Bears and never look back, and the defense halted a late rally attempt en route to the 28-14 victory against a Grand Canyon Region opponent who has been a thorn in Coconino's side over the years.
Bennett punched it in from 2 yards to start the scoring for the Panthers, who have now scored first in all five games to start the 2019 season and have yet to trail a foe under the Friday night lights. After Bennett scored, with a slew of running backs helping move the ball for Coconino out of the gates, Bailey McCauslin made it a 13-0 advantage on a 71-yard trip into the end zone with 1:32 left to play in the first quarter, setting new career highs in longest carry and longest TD run.
Bears quarterback Josh Grant finished with both of Bradshaw's (3-3, 1-1 region) scores, finding his way across the goal line in the second quarter and late in the fourth. Bradshaw got the ball back on an onside kick but couldn't push the issue late in the final quarter despite making the play.
Bennett got back into the end zone two straight times, with his second TD of the night coming on a 46-yard burst in the third quarter. Bradshaw blocked Coconino's extra point in the first half, but McCauslin, who finished with a career-high 91 yards rushing, helped his team get the two-point conversion for a 21-7 lead with 1:24 remaining in the third.
Bradshaw struggled to capitalize on Coconino penalties that kept drives alive, as the Panthers ended up with six penalties for 65 yards.
Coconino played gutsy on the road and continued to be a force on fourth downs, going 4 for 7 on its attempts at moving the chains when up against the wall. The Panthers kept their first drive of the game alive on a fourth-and-5 that Bennett overcame.
Bennett's final TD of the night was set up on a pass play on a third-and-4 situation where Panthers QB Jordan Lucero found Andy Ruiz on for 27 yards. Ruiz had two catches for 36 yards, and Lucero finished 2-of-3 passing.
Aaron Avitia added 44 yards rushing on eight carries for the 4A Conference Panthers, who hope the victory will give them a big boost come Tuesday when the AIA releases its first set of football power rankings.
Coconino returns home next week after spending the past two Friday nights in another town. The Panthers will host region opponent Prescott, which will be coming off a bye week.
Rikenna Curtis had 10 kills, Brooke Parker tallied 19 assists and the Coconino Panthers topped the Mohave Thunderbirds Thursday, using a road sweep to notch back-to-back wins for the first time this season.
Curtis committed just one hitting error and added three service aces for the 4A Panthers, who cruised in the Grand Canyon Region match 25-11, 25-18, 25-14. Coconino (3-4, 1-2 region) finished with 14 total aces and 10 service errors, with Morgan Derr providing a team-high six and Madelyn Clouse also finishing with three.
Elyce Palmer recorded seven digs, and Coconino handed Mohave (2-6, 0-5) its sixth straight loss and fifth sweep during the skid. Clouse and Mireya Cabrera each contributed four digs.
Taya Fordyce provided six kills and Megan Hicks added five for the Panthers, who saw their first 3-0 win of the regular season Thursday.
The Panthers will be at Bradshaw Mountain for another region match Tuesday. The AIA is set to release its first set of rankings Tuesday afternoon.
Get local news delivered to your inbox!
Subscribe to our Daily Headlines newsletter.