Sugar Skulls set a franchise record for points and defeated Northern Arizona 72-62 at Tucson Arena | National

If there’s anything the Tucson Sugar Skulls can do, it’s scoring.

Tucson has the most scoring offense in the IFL. However, the Sugar Skulls defense ranks last in the league in points allowed, often resulting in college basketball scores and — too often lately — losses.

Saturday night was more or less the same at the Tucson Arena. But this time, the Sugar Skulls came out of their in-state showdown against the Northern Arizona Wranglers with a 72-62 victory, snapping a three-game losing streak. Tucson set a single-game franchise record for points scored and points combined in a game.

Tucson had 224 total yards. The Wranglers had 298, averaging 7.6 yards per game.

“You could tell the guys on the sidelines were ready to keep going no matter what. Other games we felt like we had won and we let off the pedal,” the Sugar Skulls coach said. , Dixie Wooten. “This week these guys kept fighting and understanding that if we keep score we’ll win the game. … We were making plays on defense but we also gave up too many plays. We have to fix that .

“As a coach, this is the first time I’ve given up 60 points twice in a season. So it’s not a great feeling, but a win is a win. Now we’re going up the food chain and now we have to improve defensively.”

Sugar Skulls quarterback Daquan Neal, who leads the IFL in passing yards, completed 7 of 11 passes for 156 yards and four touchdowns. Neal rushed for 36 yards and three rushing touchdowns.

Tucson forced a turnover on the downs late in the first quarter thanks to defensive lineman Ronald Collins’ sack on the Wranglers’ 2-yard line. Neal then scored an eight-yard rushing touchdown to start the second quarter, giving Tucson a 21-7 lead.

The Skulls never followed the Wranglers, though Northern Arizona remained within striking range throughout the night.

The Sugar Skulls led 28-14 midway through the first half after wide receiver Quinton Pedroza completed a 28-yard touchdown pass from Neal. Northern Arizona wide receiver Quentin Randolph swept a 16-yard throw for a touchdown to make it 28-21. At the ensuing kickoff, Northern Arizona recovered an onside kick, the fourth Tucson has allowed in the past three weeks. The Wranglers’ extra possession led to Randolph burning Sugar Skulls defensive back Jovon White for a 38-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Kaleb Barker. Northern Arizona missed the PAT, however, and Tucson held onto a 28-27 lead.

Tucson running back Benjamin Jones fired the ensuing kickoff 36 yards inside the red zone, leaving running back Mike Jones (unrelated) to give the Sugar Skulls a 35-yard lead -27. Sugar Skulls defensive lineman Maurice Jackson intercepted Barker’s second pass of the season for the Tucson defense and returned it 25 yards for a touchdown, and the Sugar Skulls held a 42-33 at halftime.

Neal only attempted three passes in the first half, and it all went for touchdowns.

In the second half, Northern Arizona attempted another onside kick, but Pedroza jumped up and clung to the ball to set up the offense inside the red zone. Neal ran for a rushing touchdown to execute the field position. Pedroza said kick recoveries this season “have been a weak point” this season.

“One of the (onside kicks) they got me. I thought I got hit before 10 yards so it didn’t work our way,” he said. “The next shot he kicked me. Instincts must have kicked in and I was able to find the game. It was good for us, and we fought until the next game.”

Pedroza’s special teams heroism continued with a fumble recovered on a fourth quarter kickoff.

Randolph nailed four second-half touchdowns for Northern Arizona, but the Sugar Skulls outlasted the Wranglers in the shootout.

“There’s nothing better than a win,” Neal said. “We’ve been on a losing streak – almost a month of losing. Everyone came out fiery and we didn’t want that taste in our mouths. We lit a fire under our butts and played cue this evening.”

Next up: The Sugar Skulls (2-3) head home to face the Duke City Gladiators next Saturday at 6:05 p.m. Duke City beat Tucson last week, 57-52, in New Mexico.

Bonus Points:

• Tucson signed a defensive back Mike Miner. Minter, a 5-foot-11, 180-pound product from Middle Tennessee State, was with the Sugar Skulls all past season.

• Tucson is now 3-1 against Northern Arizona since last season.

• Sugar Skulls leading the wide receiver Arthur Jackson injured his ribs during a first-half kick-off and left the game.

Rachel J. Bradford