It could have been a tough call; but it wasn't.
Tied at 28 in the second overtime, third-seeded Desert Vista faced 4th and goal at the 10-yard line. Kick the field goal and go up three, and No. 14 Mountain View is 10 yards away from an upset playoff victory.
Go for it - and miss - and the odds are even greater that the Toros put an end to the Thunder's season.
"It would be a tough call if I didn't have faith in our defense. But it's an easy call. I had faith that our defense would come up big - and it did," said Dan Hinds, taking the "easy" route and sending kicker John Gieseking out for a 27-yard field goal attempt. "It was an easy call."
Gieseking connected, and the Thunder forced and recovered a Toro fumble at the 10-yard line later in that second overtime to send Desert Vista (9-2) to the second round of the Class 5A-Division I state playoffs with a 31-28 victory Friday.
"Unbelievable," Hinds said. "That was a heavy-hitting game tonight."
Yet again Desert Vista saw itself head into halftime trailing, and yet again, the Thunder came out with a win in the end after a big second half. On previous efforts, it's been Desert Vista's offense that's paved the way, especially during its current seven-game winning streak.
Friday, it was the defense that not only kept the Thunder in it, but was responsible for a bevy of points, too.
Trailing 13-7 at the half, the score remained that until three minutes in to the fourth quarter. Mountain View (5-6), just across midfield, ran a halfback pass play, with quarterback Jeremy Boatright pitching right to the tailback, then breaking left for open field. The pass was on its way to a wide-open Boatright - plenty of room to run upfield - when Desert Vista defensive back Ryan Wagner darted in front, picked off the pass, and raced 55 for the touchdown and the lead.
Desert Vista's defense would do it again just two minutes later. At the seven-minute mark, Mike Arredondo recovered a Mountain View fumble at the Toro 22-yard-line, setting up an eventual Arredondo 1-yard touchdown run to give Desert Vista a 21-13 lead.
Mountain View would crawl back to force overtime, with Boatright ultimately scoring on a 2-yard run inside two minutes to play, and Colten Nielsen scoring the 2-point conversion to tie it at 28-all.
After Nielsen scored from 2-yards out in the first overtime, Arredondo countered again.
Then Gieseking had his chance in the first half of the second overtime, and the Desert Vista defense literally stole the game away with the fumble recovery to win it. The Thunder forced six fumbles in the game, recovering three in the second half and overtime.
"Our defense, the way we play ... how emotional we play, we thrive on (the pressure)," Arredondo said. "Our defense, obviously with the fumbles and the interceptions, we get a lot of momentum rolling."
Boatright paced the Toros with 71 yards and two scores on 22 carries. Nielsen had 80 yards on 15 carries and two scores.
Desert Vista quarterback Hunter Rodriguez completed 14-of-22 passes for 151 yards and a touchdown - an 8-yard completion to Dominic Kereluk in the second quarter. Rodriguez threw two interceptions.
For the Thunder, the win meant knocking off a Mountain View team that, while not representative of the Toros past dominance in the win column, played with an aggression all-too familiar from the red and blue.
"Saturday morning we went and got the bracket and I said, we worked hard all year long, got the three seed, and we draw Mountain View?" Hinds said.
Added Thunder senior Mike Ingrassia "I want to say (Mountain View) is probably the hardest-hitting team we've ever played; hardest I've been hit in a long time."
Desert Vista improved to 6-0 at home this season, and will get a chance to take it to a perfect 7-0 when the Thunder host Tucson Salpointe ¬- victorious against Phoenix St. Mary's - next Friday at 7 p.m. at Thunder Stadium.
Mountain View 7 6 0 8 7--28
Desert Vista 0 7 0 14 10--31
Mtn. View Desert Vista
First downs 18 13
Rushes -yards 57-249 26-86
Passing yards 32 151
Comp-Att-Int 3-7-1 14-22-2
Fumbles-lost 6-3 2-1
Penalties-yards 5-50 5-55
MV -- Nielsen 2 run (Stewart kick) (1st, 4:49)
MV -- Boatright 15 run (conversion failed) (2nd, 9:54)
DV -- Kereluk 8 pass from Rodriguez (Gieseking kick) (2nd, 5:23)
DV -- Wagner 55 interception return (Gieseking kick) (4th, 8:17)
DV -- Arredondo 1 run (Gieseking kick) (4th, 6:29)
MV -- Boatright 2 run (Nielsen 2 run) (4th, 1;32)
MV -- Nielsen 2 run (Stewart kick) (1OT)
DV -- Arredondo 4 run (Gieseking kick) (1OT)
DV -- Gieseking 27 field goal (2OT)
Phoenix Desert Vista (9-2) defeated Mesa Mountain View (5-6), 31-28, in double overtime Friday night at Thunder Stadium on opening night of the Class 5A-Division I state playoffs.
Trailing 13-7 approaching the mid-point of the fourth, Desert Vista defensive back Ryan Wagner jumped in front of a halfback pass back to Mountain View quarterback Jeremy Boatwright, taking the pick-six 55-yards for the score, giving the Thunder the lead.
PLAYER OF THE GAME:
Desert Vista's Mike Arredondo scored two late touchdowns, but also was a catalyst of a Thunder defense that forced six fumbles, recovering three.
Desert Vista won six times this season after trailing at the half, and has outscored opponents 150-52 after halftime this season.