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 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, which was delayed for nearly an hour because of lightning, was played in wet conditions and punctuated by hard hits and gritty runs. Mitchell stayed in the game thanks to an opportunistic defense with Axel Munoz-Ortega and Trevor Maples recording interceptions that ended scoring threats.
Sunlake stopped the Mustangs twice on downs. Most of the big plays came courtesy of linebacker Austin Yeloushan, who had three sacks and was in on several other stops.
Mosi Davis recorded an interception late in the fourth quarter that helped seal the win for Sunlake.