Dominic Davis of Mountain Pointe hauls in a reception during the Pride’s 28-20 win at Desert Ridge in Mesa on Friday. |
No one can accuse Mountain Pointe of not putting a little drama into their games.
After failing to make a single first down and trailing 14-0 at halftime, the Pride, fighting for a first-round home playoff game, scored three touchdowns in less than 5 minutes in the third quarter and then hung on for a 28-20 victory over Desert Ridge on Friday night in far east Mesa.
The previous week, the Pride trailed Chaparral 10-0 after a quarter before rallying for a win.
“They did a phenomenal job on offense, as well as they obviously controlled the clock,” Mountain Pointe coach Rich Wellbrock said of the Jaguars. “I think the first drive they scored on was over nine minutes. They did a great job. Coach (Jeremy) Hathcock and his staff and his kids implemented that game plan to the fullest and limited our possessions. We couldn’t get into a rhythm in the first half.”
Desert Ridge, now firmly on the playoff bubble at 3-6, had a bye the previous week and made the most of the time formulating its game plan against the Pride. Mountain Pointe had only 29 total yards at the half.
Meanwhile, Jaguars running back Lucas Wright had 103 rushing yards by halftime and 240 for the game, feasting on toss sweeps to the right side. Wright also converted a third-down with a 35-yard completion to the 2 on a halfback pass to set up Desert Ridge’s second touchdown just before halftime.
While it seemed that Desert Ridge was doing everything right in every facet of the game, Wellbrock wanted his team to focus on taking care of the little things rather than coming back in one play.
“At halftime, we came back out and I said, ‘Fellas, let’s just get a first down,’” Wellbrock said. “Let’s get into a little bit of a rhythm and let’s see what happens. Obviously, we got a couple of plays. Defense made a couple of big plays. We flipped it pretty good.”
On the first possession of the second half, Mountain Pointe scored in less than two minutes and gained momentum.
“Right after that first touchdown, I felt like we were going to have the game,” Mountain Pointe quarterback Nick Wallerstedt said.
The next possession didn’t last much longer. Sophomore running back Eli Sanders capped a drive with a 37-yard touchdown run that tied the game.
A couple of minutes later, the Pride took the lead for good when defensive end Kenneth Lofton picked up a fumble and rambled 30 yards for a score.
After allowing 208 total yards in the first half, the Pride defense clamped down and limited the Jaguars to 153 total yards and six points in the second, aided by two fumble recoveries and an interception.
“Our defensive players bailed us out tonight,” Wallerstedt said. “Definitely, we’ll put the ‘W’ on them. They helped us out, helped us get the ball back and they just did what they needed to do. They do this every week. They ball out and that’s all we needed them to do this week, and they did.”
After Wallerstedt put the Pride up by eight points with a 16-yard scoring run with just under 2 minutes to go, their defense had to stop Desert Ridge one last time.
“They manned up,” Wellbrock said. “There was a lot of guys out there that were in brand new positions (because of widespread injuries). When the bell rang, they ran out there and did some really good things for us and it’s just fun to watch these kids fly around sometimes.”
An interception by defensive back Diamante Landrum in the closing minute sealed the game and allowed Mountain Pointe to take a knee and walk away with a winning record (5-4) for the first time this season.
“I just told (the team), ‘Let’s get out of here, because the team in the first half is not the team we want to remember this game by,’” Wellbrock said.
The Pride, ninth in AIA Class 6A playoff seeding going into the game, all but sealed a playoff berth with the win. They close the season at home Friday against Corona del Sol (1-8) hoping that a victory will lift them into the top eight and a first-round home playoff game.
Desert Ridge (3-6)14th in seeding going into the game, closes against Highland (8-1) and likely needing a win to a void failing to make the playoffs for the first time in Hathcock’s 13 years at the school.
Mountain Pointe 28, Desert Ridge 20
Mountain Pointe 0 0 21 7– 28
Desert Ridge 0 14 0 6 – 20
DR – Hathcock 1 run (Edwards kick), 9:01.
DR – Wright 2 run (Edwards kick), 1:01.
High – Cullimore 46 run (McNamara kick), 4:20
MP – Washington 25 pass from Wallerstedt (Abercrombie kick), 10:17.
MP – Sanders 37 run (Abercrombie kick), 7:33.
MP – Lofton 30 fumble recovery (Abercrombie kick), 7:15.
DR – Wright 1 run (kick failed), 5:51.
MP – Wallerstedt 16 run (Abercrombie kick), 1:50.
Rush-yards 27-98 52-320
Comp-Att-Int 7-14-0 2-5-1
Pass yard 81 39
Total yards 179 359
Fumbles/lost 0/0 5/3
Penalties 5-50 4-25
Mountain Pointe – Sanders 17-98, Wallerstedt 6-41, McKinney 4-2. Desert Ridge – Wright 31-240, Segura 14-58, Hathcock 6-24, Salazar 1- (-2).
Mountain Pointe – Wallerstedt 7-14-0, 81 yards. Desert Ridge –Kolb 1-3-1, 4; Wright 1-2-0, 35.
Mountain Pointe – Davis 4-45, Barker 3-36. Desert Ridge – Butler 1-35, Lee 1-4.