Jaydon Brooks has been Mountain Pointe’s emergency quarterback the last couple of the years.
An emergency cropped up Friday.
While he technically didn’t come in at quarterback, the Pride offense was in dire need of rescue as top-seeded and heavily favored Mountain Pointe was deadlocked in a tie in the fourth quarter of the 6A Conference against No. 13 Red Mountain.
Brooks, a wide receiver by trade, took a handoff on a reverse, pulled up on the right side and hit a streaking Isaiah Pola-Mao for a 59-yard touchdown with 6:55 left in the game for a 21-14 win.
“I don’t know if I’d call it an emergency, but we needed something big happen,” Brooks said. “I have never completed that pass, and when I saw Isaiah that open I knew I had to get it to him somehow.”
The ball – according to Pola-Mao – seemed to be in the air forever, but he caught to give the Pride (13-0) the margin of victory back in order to return to the state championship game for the third time.
“It was a great call by the coaches,” Pola-Mao said. “They noticed the (Red Mountain) corners were crashing line of scrimmage. When you are that open you can over think it, but there was no way I was going to drop that one.”
The win gives the Pride a chance to win its second state title in four seasons when they play No. 2 Chandler (11-2) on Saturday, Nov. 26 at 7 p.m. at University of Phoenix Stadium.
“It don’t even know what to say about it,” Brooks said. “It’s not real yet.”
And it almost didn’t happen thanks to a valiant effort by Red Mountain (8-5).
The Mountain Lions trailed 14-0 at halftime, but went into the intermission on a high after the Pride failed to score in the final moments of the second quarter despite getting down to the Red Mountain 3-yard line.
A false start, a dropped pass by Brooks on a difficult catch in the end zone and then a missed 19-yard field kept it at 14-0 at the half.
Red Mountain scored on its first two possessions of the second half as Austin Duffy started to heat up in completing a 25-yard score to a wide open Mack Klafter and a 33-yard acrobatic catch Josh Daniels with 5:37 left in the third quarter.
While the Mountain Lions will always remembering pushing a team ranked in the top 10 nationally to the brink, what will hurt was the missed opportunity to take the lead.
Duffy connected with Daniels again, this time for 43 yards, plus a personal foul on Mountain Pointe’s Pola-Mao for unnecessary roughness, to put the ball to the Pride 6.
The Pride defense stepped up – especially when running back Lance Lawson pulled up to throw a pass and no one was open he was tackled for a loss.
It led to an eventual 32-yard field by that was no good. Wide left.
“We had to get points on that third trip down there,” Red Mountain coach Ron Wisneiwski said. “It’s easy to look at plays after they don’t work, but we thought what we had was the right play in that moment. We still had a chance there and didn’t get anything out of it. It’s a different game if we take the lead there, but we didn’t.”
Two drives later, Brooks found Pola-Mao for the go-ahead score and then the Mountain Pointe defense, including a tipped ball by linebacker Rashie Hodge on the second-to-last drive and a sniffing out of a screen play on fourth down on Red Mountain’s final drive, closed out the game.
“We did some uncharacteristic things, missed wide open receivers, dropped touchdowns and missed kicks,” Pride coach Norris Vaughan said. “Give Red Mountain credit it, they played hard. We won and advanced and that’s all that matters.”
It was the first time all year Mountain Pointe didn’t have a lead to start the fourth quarter and just the second time all year an opponent had a chance to tie the game in the final 12 minutes.
“We needed something like this,” said junior running back Delano Salgado, who had 166 yards rushing including a 68-yard touchdown in the first quarter. “We know a team can play with us and push us. We really haven’t had that situation and we were able to respond.”
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Mountain Pointe 21, Red Mountain 14
RM 0 0 14 0–14
MP 7 7 0 7–21
MP-Salgado 68 run (Abercrombie kick), 2:15
MP- Hodge 34 fumble return (Abercrombie kick)m 10:34
RM – Klafter 25 pass from Duffy (Huffman kick)
RM – Daniels 33 pass from Duffy (Huffman kick), 5:37
MP – Pola-Mao 59 pass from Brooks (Abercrombie kick), 6:55
First downs 11 14
Rush-yards 32-159 29-262
Comp-Att-INT 6-17-0 4-10-0
Pass yards 129 97
Total yards 288 359
Fumbles/lost 2/2 3/1
Penalties 6-33 4-30
RM – Lawson 22-104, Romero 3-7, Duffy 4-26, Rappoport 1-2, Moore 2-20. MP – Hodge 10-46, Salgado 12-166, Woodbury 1-5, Stephens 3-25, Wallerstedt 3-20.
RM – Duffy 6-16-0-98, Lawson 1-1-0-(-)1. MP – Grover 3-9-0-35, Brooks 1-1-0-59.
RM – Daniels 3-87, Klafter 1-25, Pereira 2-3, Moore 1-14. MP – Pola-Mao 1-59, Brooks 1-23, Hodge 1-15.
RM -Huffman 39, 32. MP – Abercrombie 19.