Sunlake and Mitchell both had defenses capable of turning a game around, and their steady and reliable running backs were supposed to be front and center throughout a tense showdown between Class 6A, District 6 rivals.
But the game Friday night was ultimately decided by big plays through the air.
The Seahawks had both of them.
Quarterback Dayton Feiden had two completions that set up touchdowns for Sunlake, which won 14-0.
Feiden's first big completion was a 27-yarder to Nick Valdes that set up Nathan Johnson's 3-yard touchdown on the game's opening possession.
In the third quarter, Feiden had a 12-yard screen pass that set up Logan Wolfe's 5-yard touchdown run to round out the scoring.
Sunlake (5-1, 1-1) has one of the best running backs in the county in Johnson. But he struggled to get going as the Mustangs zeroed in on him. Johnson finished with 80 yards on 30 carries, a statistical line that helped explain such a low-scoring game.
The game, delayed for nearly an hour because of lightning, was played in wet conditions and punctuated by hard hits and gritty runs. While the Seahawks had some success in their passing game, Mitchell (3-3, 1-1) couldn't find any traction on offense.
Of course, that had a lot do with Sunlake's defense, which posted its fourth shutout of the season. The Seahawks twice stopped the Mustangs on downs. Most of the big plays came courtesy of linebacker Austin Yeloushan, who had three sacks and was in on several other stops.
Still, the Mustangs stayed in the game thanks to an opportunistic defense of its own. Axel Munoz-Ortega and Trevor Maples each recorded interceptions for Mitchell that ended scoring threats.
Sunlake's Chris Wilkerson missed a 32-yard field goal midway through the fourth quarter. But any chance the Mustangs had of rallying ended when Mosi Davis recorded an interception late in the fourth quarter for the Seahawks.
Bob Putnam can be reached at email@example.com. Follow @BobbyHomeTeam.