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Two picks lift Cienega

Citizen Staff Writer





The monkey was taken off Cienega High’s back Friday.

After three straight close losses to Sabino, Cienega emerged with a 17-13 win over the visiting Sabercats, thanks to David Abeyta coming up big with two interceptions in a Class 4A Kino Region game.

Abeyta’s second pick was the biggie. It came with 50 seconds left as the Sabercats (6-2, 2-1) tried to mount the go-ahead drive.

Abeyta had been beaten on the same pass pattern by Keanu Nelson seconds earlier. He was ready this time.

“This was amazing,” Abeyta said. “My two older brothers played Sabino in a bunch of close games. This was definitely a big step for our program.”

Cienega (6-2, 3-0) is alone in first place.

“This game could have gone either way,” Cienega coach Nemer Hassey said. “Sabino is incredible and well-coached. In football, every play is important and our kids responded well.”

Cienega was ready to go from the opening snap, driving 78 yards the first time it had the ball.

Quarterback Seth Mejias-Brean capped the drive with a dazzling 38-yard run, avoiding several tacklers to make it 7-0.

Three minutes later, Leilan Atkins scooped up a Sabino fumble and returned it 45 yards for a touchdown to make it 14-0.

“Against a good football team like Cienega, you cannot make those kind of mistakes,” said Sabino coach Jay Campos. “We did some things early on that put ourselves in a bind. Hopefully, we will learn from it. We came back and had a chance to win it. It didn’t work out for us.”

Sabino scored on an 8-yard run by Keanu Nelson in the second quarter to leave the Sabercats down 14-7 at halftime.

Cienega struck quickly in the second half with a 24-yard field goal from Andrew Crow to go up 10.

Sabino came close to scoring on its next drive, but Abeyta prevented the potential score with his first interception.

“Little breakdowns here and there are magnified against a good football team like Cienega,” Campos said. “You might get away with it against lesser competition but Cienega is a good football team.”

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