It probably won’t go down in the annals of Ahwatukee Bowl history as a classic or one of the more memorable games in the first 20 years of the series.
Mountain Pointe’s 27-13 win at Karl Kiefer Stadium did, howver, provide the unexpected though as many thought the nation’s 10th-ranked team to have an easier game against Desert Vista than what transpired as the Pride evened the series at 10-10.
The game was undecided until early in the fourth quarter when a turnover by the Thunder on their side of the field led to Mountain Pointe’s final score and a two-possession game with less than 11 minutes left in the game.
“They were a real good team, and we probably under estimated a little bit,” senior running back/cornerback Antwaun Woodberry said. “They have to play both ways a lot. They played us tough.”
It looked to be going the way of a blowout when it was 14-0 with three minutes left in the first quarter and the Pride (6-0) blocked a but reality was it was a one-score game in the fourth quarter.
Then Thunder newcomer Alijah Gammage, playing his first game after transferring from Valley Christian, threw his first pass after a bobbled snap that was intercepted by Pride newcomer Donte Lindsey, who was in his first game after coming over from Cesar Chavez.
The pass was short, and Lindsey game up with the pick, when there was an open Desert Vista (2-4) receiver underneath.
“He’s a playmaker and we have a package for him,” Hinds said. “That was just a call we made at the time.”
Three plays later Pride running back Rashie Hodge score from scored on a 29-yard run to give Mountain Pointe a 27-13 lead with remaining.
“They played us tough,” Pride coach Norris Vaughan said. “We didn’t take advantage of some of our opportunities, had too many penalties, but we got that turnover in the fourth quarter and got a big score there.”
Mountain Pointe won against its neighborhood rival despite losing top running back Gary Bragg to a knee injury and were without starting cornerback Delano Salgado and inside linebacker Michael Washington.
A sign of a good team is being able to overcome struggles and a loss of players without much of a drop in level of play and the end result.
“We have some depth and that showed tonight,” said senior running back Noah Grover, who was 8 of 9 for 124 yards including a 63-yard touchdown to Isaiah Pola-Mao with 1:49 left before the half for a 20-6 lead.
“We were able to overcome some things and still get the win. Most of our games have been pretty easy but we had to play this one until the end.”
The Thunder had their chances but never led, but pulled within 20-13 with 5:51 left in the third quarter when Lelon Dillard scored on a direct snap 2-yard run.
“They are a really good team,” senior two-way lineman Myles Wilson said. “We played the No. 10 team in the nation and we had a chance to tie it in the fourth quarter. We don’t have to go back to the drawing board. W just have to play a little bit better and finish the season strong.”
The Pride walked off the field with a new traveling trophy presented by the AFN and won their fifth straight win in the series.
“We lost (at the freshmen level) and then at JV level before winning last year on varsity,” Grover said. “We evened it up for our class and it means everything to know that we won the last two in our career as seniors.”
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MP 27, DV 13
DV 0 6 7 0-27
MP 14 6 0 7-13
MP – Woodberry 70 run (Abercrombie kick), 10:50
MP – Hodge 12 run (Abercrombie kick), 3:38
DV – Erickson 27 FG, 7:53
DV – Erickson 27 FG, 5:10
MP – Pola-Mao 63 pass from Grover (kick failed), 1:49
DV – Dillard 2 run (Eickson kick), 5:51
MP – Hodge 29 run (Abercrombie kick), 10:41
First downs 14 15
Rush-yards 28-113 28-271
Comp-Att-Int 20-33-1 8-9-0
Pass yards 246 124
Total yards 359 395
Fumble/Lost 2/0 1/0
Penalties 4-30 8-75
DV –Dillard 12-27, Thomas 5-25, K. White 6-14, Gammage 1-6, Porter 3-34, Werbelow 1-7. MP – Stephens 11-83, Hodge 8-94, Woodberry 5-84, Brooks 4-10.
DV – Thomas 20-32-0-246, Gammage 0-0-1-0. MP – Grover 8-9-0-124.
DV – J. White 4-44, K. White 6-64, Dillard 4-50, Stagg 3-78, Porter 1-(-)4, Werbelow 1-6, Garcia 1-6.