Mesa Desert Ridge won the air battle, but it was Mountain Pointe’s boots on the ground that won the war in a come-from-behind, 35-34, East Valley Region football power swing Friday night in Gilbert.
With an aerial attack from quarterback Kevin Pantastico, Desert Ridge dominated the first half. Pantastico threw over, under and around the Pride whose only offensive answer to the onslaught was to punt.
PHOTO SLIDESHOW: Pride battle back to defeat Desert Ridge, move to 7-0 The Jaguars rolled into the intermission with a 28-0 lead and better than average odds of stopping Mountain Pointe’s six-game winning streak.
“In the first half they did a great job and I we must have thought it Monday Night football because all we did was watch,” Mountain Pointe coach Norris Vaughan said.
The second half was on another channel.
“We got away from our game plan but got back to it in the second half,” Vaughan added.
Davon Jones opened the third quarter with a 44-yard touchdown run then stunned Pantastico with an interception that started to swing the momentum in the Pride’s favor.
Joey Leal, who has made his mark as a linebacker so far this season, blasted his way through the Jaguar line from the fullback spot for a 10-yard touchdown. He followed that up by sacking Pantastico on the Jaguar’s next offensive series.
Jones closed the gap to 28-21 with a 7-yard run late in the third quarter and Mountain Pointe’s De’Andre Currie tied the game a 28-all with a 58-yard touchdown run on the first play of the fourth quarter.
The Jaguars appeared to take change of the game again a few minutes later when Pantastico hit Paris Clark on a 51-yard touchdown pass, but the conversion kick missed the mark and the Jaguars led, 34-28.
But the Pride had some march left in them.
Currie went 40 yards for the game winning touchdown and kicker Jon Mora cleared the uprights with the go-ahead point.
“They ran the ball over top of us,” Desert Ridge coach Jeremy Hathcock said. “They wanted it more than we did. Our kids couldn’t believe it and after they scored their first touchdown our kids dropped their heads. I’ve never been a part of a loss like this before so it’s going to take me a while to get over it.
The Pride were maintaining control of the game offensive when Desert Ridge junior linebacker and wide receiver Sam Papa went down with what appeared to be a knee of hip injury. The game was delayed approximately 30 minutes while Papa was taken off the field in an ambulance.
When play resumed Mountain Pointe continued its drive sending Jones, Currie and Leal into the line.
Jones appeared to be on his way to his third touchdown of the night from the Jaguar’s 10-yard line with a little less than two minutes on the clock when he pulled up short of the goal line.
The Pride ran out the clock for the victory.
“All we wanted was the first down, but he almost went in by accident,” Vaughan added.
Desert Ridge was an offensive machine early.
Joey Counts scored on a 35-yard run on the opening series of the game and Jordan Becerra gave Desert Ridge a two-touchdown lead on a 2-yard run. Clark went deep in the corner to haul in a 12-yard pass from Pantastico with a little more than three minutes gone in the second quarter, then Pantastico ran 4 yards for another Jaguars touchdown with a minute remaining in the first half.
Mountain Pointe 0 0 21 14 35
Desert Ridge 14 14 0 6 34
First downs 19 15
Rushing 48-358 23-72
Passing 1-8-14 19-32-299, 2 TD, 1 Int.
Penalties 6-37 5-45
DR – Joey Counts 35 run (Danny Berzins kick)
DR – Jordan Becerra 2 run (Berzins kick)
DR – Paris Clark 12 yards pass from Kevin Pantastico (Berzins kick)
DR - Pantastico 2 run (Berzins kick)
MP – Davon Jones 44 run (Mora kick)
MP – Joey Leal 10 run (Mora kick)
MP – Jones 2 run (Mora kick)
MP - Currie 51 run (Mora kick)
DR – Clark 51 pass from Pantatico (kick failed)
MP – Currie 40 run (Mora Kick)
Key plays: With Desert Ridge leading 28-7, Davon Jones intercepted a Pantatico pass that led to a second Mountain Pointe touchdown, cutting the score to 28-14. Joey Leal sacks Pantatico on a 3-and 5 and Israel Marhshall stops Desert Ridge’s Zach Flich on a 4th and 10 with 5 minutes remaining in the third quarter.
Key Stat: Mountain Pointe gained 358 yards on the ground and scored all five touchdowns with the run. Desert Vista passed for 229 yards and two touchdowns.