When Poston Butte scored on the first play of the fourth quarter Friday night to make it 31-14, it looked like Marcos de Niza was headed for its third straight loss. Then Joshua Eckley took over.
The senior quarterback, who had just returned to full duty following an injury, led four touchdown drives in the final quarter to stun the Broncos 41-38 in Tempe.
Eckley, who finished with five TD passes and a touchdown run, led Marcos de Niza on a 73-yard drive in 73 seconds, ending it with a 14-yard scoring strike to Jake Lagunas. Then after the Padres recovered an onside kick, Eckley scored 40 seconds later on a nine-yard scramble to pull Marcos de Niza to within 31-27. After forcing Poston Butte to a three-and-out, the Padres marched 55 yards to take a 34-31 lead when Eckley hooked up with Anthony Trujillo from 19 yards out.
Marcos de Niza appeared to have sealed the game on an interception on the Broncos' ensuing drive, but a roughing the passer penalty gave Poston Butte new life. Three plays later, Broncos' junior quarterback Russell Corriveau hit Keyshawn Boyd over the middle for a 52-yard touchdown strike that allowed the Broncos to regain the lead at 38-34 with 2:48 remaining.
That was more than enough time for Eckley to march the Padres 68 yards and find Luke Nguyen for a six-yard TD pass with 48 seconds left in the game.
The comeback win overshadowed a monster performance by Broncos' junior running back Brandon Hatfield, who compiled four rushing touchdowns in the middle two quarters – including a 90-yarder with 1:10 left in the first half to give Poston Butte an 18-7 halftime lead.
Corriveau also had a 27-yard TD pass to Caleb Lineberry with 11:54 left in the game. Eckley started the scoring off in the game with a six-yard touchdown toss to Tanner Blankenship in the first quarter after an interception by the Padres' Coleman Griffith on the Broncos' first play from scrimmage gave Marcos de Niza the ball on the Poston Butte 27. The Padres were without sophomore sensation running back N'Keal Harry, who sat out the game with a shoulder injury.
The Padres, who are #6 in the power ranking for Division II, improve to 5-2 on the year and will travel to Westwood on Friday. Poston Butte, who drops to 3-4, returns home Friday after three straight road losses to face Mesquite.