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9/16

Running game leads Mountain Pointe to third win.

Mountain Pointe’s Jakim McKinney, #33, evades a Mountain View tackle on his way into the end zone for the Pride’s first touchdown.  [Photo by Cheryl Haselhorst]

Running game leads Mountain Pointe to third win.

By Eddie Poe AFN Contributor | 9/16/17

For a team that finished third in the 6A Conference in 2016 and fell short in the state title game, Phoenix Mountain Pointe looks to be doing everything they can to avenge last season’s result. 

A week after upsetting then No.1 Chandler on the road, top-ranked Mountain Pointe kept its foot on the gas pedal Friday night, cruising to a 35-3 victory over No. 22 Mesa Mountain View. 

“We were dominant on both offense and defense tonight,” Mountain Pointe coach Norris Vaughan said. “Our quarterback made plays and our backs ran really hard behind our line for most of the game.”

Mountain Pointe (3-1) wasn’t perfect on either side of the ball by any means. It racked up over a dozen penalties throughout the game, which allowed Mountain View (2-2) a time of possession which nearly seemed like an eternity. Fortunately for the Pride, secondary play from Kenny Churchwell and Lacarea Pleasant-Johnson kept the Toros out of the end-zone numerous times despite the long list of penalties. 

“[They] certainly made their fair share of plays,” Vaughan said. “We were so dominant on defense but it was the penalties that allowed them to stay on the field and keep their drives going.”

For the second straight week, Mountain Pointe got the offensive push up front that they’re accustomed to seeing, which created a plethora of holes for the backfield. 

After a drive early on led to a touchdown run by Jakim McKinney, a hole opened up once again to start the second quarter and Gary Bragg found paydirt for the second rushing touchdown in the game, scampering for a 23-yard touchdown to give the Pride a 14-3 lead.

A critical mistake to go for it on fourth down deep in their own territory, came back to bite the Toros right before the half. Mountain Pointe took over possession at the Toros’ 23-yard-line and a few plays later, McKinney ran it in from nine yards out for his second touchdown of the game. 

“We’ve all been working really hard at practice,” McKinney said. “Sometimes the guys up front make mistakes but they get right back up and they got a lot better tonight.”

A few minutes before the half, Mountain View had their best opportunity to get back in the game but another crucial mistake proved costly. On a screen pass out left, quarterback Brandon Nuñez hit Jacobby Dinwiddie in the flat and the offensive line carved out an open path to the end zone and Dinwiddie took it to the house for what seemed like a must-have touchdown. Unfortunately, a holding penalty negated the touchdown pass and Mountain Pointe went into the half with a 21-3 lead.

From there the rout continued as on the opening play of the second half, a hole practically the size of Arizona opened and quarterback Nick Wallerstedt it himself for a 77-yard touchdown run. 

“We knew what to expect tonight and I felt like our guys came out and played really hard on both sides,” Vaughan said. “We just need to cut down on penalties.”

To go along with four touchdowns on the ground, Wallerstedt connected with Pleasant-Johnson late in the fourth on a touchdown pass. He finished with a TD reception and an interception — a pick for a touchback late in the second quarter that stalled a Mountain View drive.

The Pride will return home next week for the first time this season, when they welcome quarterback phenom Spencer Rattler and Pinnacle High School (3-2). 

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