Pima College was held scoreless in the second half Saturday, but its three early touchdowns were enough.
The Aztecs held off Air Force Prep 21-13 at Cholla High School in the second-to-last regular-season home game in program history. Pima will finish up its home slate next week against Eastern Arizona in a game played at Kino North Stadium.
Pima has won five consecutive games after falling in its season opener. Saturday’s win, which came a week after the Aztecs’ game at Mesa was canceled due to inclement weather, was ugly, coach Jim Monaco said.
“We played bad and had a lot of mistakes,” Monaco said. “I’ll be honest with you: For an Air Force team, they were a little chippier than it usually gets. I was a little shocked with some of their plays, but we made way too many mistakes.”
Pima opened the scoring on a 1-yard Brooks Ringer quarterback keeper seconds into the second quarter.
Ringer made it 14-0 with a 23-yard run later in the quarter. Air Force Prep cut the lead to 14-3 with a field goal with less than two minutes left before halftime.
That’s when the Aztecs struck again: Ringer connected with Dylan Holt for a 17-yard touchdown with 22 seconds left in the half.
Then, nothing for the second half.
“We came out flat. We kind of started to fix things up in the second quarter there,” Ringer said. “Defense played really good the whole game — offense kind of put us in a bad situation.”
Air Force Prep’s Caden Perry recovered a Pima fumble and ran it in the 49 yards to cut the deficit to 21-10 early in the third quarter. A 40-yard field goal later in the period made it an eight-point game.
The Aztecs held on during a game that showed some of Ringer’s inexperience. The freshman quarterback was sacked five times, the result of hanging on to the ball too long, Monaco said.
“Offensively, we’ve got to get better at picking up that protection and being able to see what’s open and what’s given to him,” Monaco said. “His vision today was horrible. So, some of those sacks were not on the O-line, but it’s bad. It’s bad right now.”
Monaco said he believed Saturday’s noon start time may have hindered his team. The Aztecs are going to have to get used to it: Next week’s game is scheduled for 1 p.m., and the Aztecs’ Nov. 10 regular-season finale is scheduled for 2 p.m.
“The next three weeks, they better wake up or winning the conference is going to be gone,” Monaco said. “We win out, we win the conference. We win out, we can play for the national championship. We win out, we’re going to play in a big bowl game. It’s all in front of them. It’s their decision.
“We’ve got to get better, faster. We’re just too sloppy.”