Mountain Pointe High’s mission to re-establish itself among the top football teams in 6A has hinged on finishing games.
On Friday, against visiting Queen Creek, the Pride didn’t slam the door.
The Bulldogs orchestrated an 80-yard scoring drive in the closing 2 minutes to knock off the Pride, 29-28, in Ahwatukee.
“At the end of the day, when you play a good football team for 48 minutes you have to knock them out when you have the opportunity to knock them out,” Mountain Pointe coach Rich Wellbrock said. “We knew we would have to play a good football game to win, but hats off to them.
“We need to get better.”
Leading 28-23, Mountain Pointe had an opportunity deep in Queen Creek territory to clinch the victory.
But a holding penalty forced the Pride to punt, setting up Queen Creek quarterback Devin Larsen for the game-winning drive.
With wide-receiver screens mixed with quarterback scrambles, the Bulldogs quickly drove down the field, capping it with a two-yard run by sophomore Trey Reynolds — his second TD of the night — with 50 seconds remaining.
“As a kid I dreamed of those game-winning drives,” Larsen said. “Our line came up huge and it was an all-around team drive right there. Having (Reynolds) punch it in like that for us is amazing.”
Larsen struggled throughout the first half, completing just four of 10 passes for 57 yards and a touchdown. Constant pressure from Mountain Pointe’s aggressive, blitzing defense had Larsen on the run, resulting in a loss of yards or short gains.
But the senior picked things up in the second half, finishing 14 of 25 for 191 yards. He also rushed for 42 yards.
“Devin proved his worth tonight,” Queen Creek coach Travis Schureman said. “He put it on his shoulder and made the plays when he needed to. I’m just happy our kids are going to get the recognition they deserve. I’m happy with where we are at.”
Mountain Pointe had one last chance in the closing 50 seconds, but senior quarterback Nick Wallerstedt’s pass to junior wideout Dominique Davis was broken up downfield as time expired.
Wallerstedt and Davis had been a force throughout the game, connecting seven times for 144 yards and two touchdowns – one a 73-yarder that gave Mountain Pointe the lead in the third quarter.
Along with completing 14 of 19 pass attempts for 195 yards, Wallerstedt added 45 yards on the ground, the second-most for the Pride, behind senior running back Jakim McKinnney’ 100.
At 5-foot-8, 170 pounds, McKinney’s ability to stay low to the ground has made it difficult for opposing teams to bring him down all season. His strength coupled with his breakaway speed make him among the most dynamic backs in the state.
The Bulldogs’ defense never allowed McKinney to break free, though. Whether it was a shoelace tackle in the trenches or a safety coming up to make a play just beyond the line of scrimmage, Queen Creek’s defense always had multiple players swarming the ball to limit the Pride’s big-play ability.
“Our defense has been playing their butts off all year,” Schureman said. “It’s great to see all of those guys flying to the ball, and they’re going to hit you. Hats off to our coaches. They work these guys every week and they are well prepared.”
Queen Creek – which made the jump to 6A this season – improved to 5-1 overall and 1-0 in region play. It takes on Corona del Sol (1-5, 0-1) next week.
The rigorous schedule of the Pride (2-3, 0-1) continues with a visit to Highland (6-0, 1-0) in Gilbert.
“At the end of the day it’s all about details,” Wellbrock said. “We need to make sure we do the things that need to be done in order to play championship football.”
Queen Creek 29, Mountain Pointe 28
Queen Creek 7 7 9 6 – 29
Mountain Pointe 7 7 14 0 – 28
MP – Nitura 1 run (Abercrombie kick), 5:59.
QC – Reynolds 36 run (Kaupe kick), 2:57.
QC – Dobbs 31 pass from Larsen (Kaupe kick), 7:30.
MP – Davis 12 pass from Wallerstedt (Abercrombie kick), :43.
QC – Larsen 1 run, 10:16
MP – Davis 73 pass from Wallerstedt (Abercrombie kick), 9:54.
MP – McKinney 2 run (Abercrombie kick), 5:12.
QC – FG, Kaupe 22, :48.
QC – Reynolds 2 run, :50.
Queen Creek Mountain Pointe
First downs 13 15
Rush-yards 25-146 39-173
Comp-Att-Int 14-25-0 14-19-2
Pass yard 191 195
Total yards 321 368
Fumbles-lost 2-1 1-1
Penalties 6-45 5-42
Queen Creek – Borja 16-51, Larsen 4-42, Reynolds 2-38, Bond 1-8, Coleman 1-5, Berry 1-2. Mountain Pointe – McKinney 28-100, Wallerstedt 7-45, Sanders 3-27, Nitura 1-1.
Queen Creek – Larsen 14-25-0, 191 yards. Mountain Pointe – Wallerstedt 14-19-2, 195.
Queen Creek – Aldecca 4-55, Prochazka 3-43, Dobbs 2-47, Borja 5-46. Mountain Pointe – Davis 7-140, Dickson 3-24, Sanders 2-13, Washington 1-20, Gomez 1-(-2).