Mountain Pointe knew heading into its match up against Pinnacle it would need to come out firing right out of the gates to establish momentum.
The Pride’s defense did all it could to limit the Pioneers’ firepower led by Quarterback JD Johnson and wide receiver Marcus Libman. But Mountain Pointe’s offense was unable to find a rhythm throughout the game, as Pinnacle cruised to a 40-0 win over the Pride at Karl Kiefer Stadium on Friday night.
“We knew from the jump they were good,” Mountain Pointe senior linebacker Rashion Hodge said. “We came out too flat. But I’m proud of the way our defense played. I think we did what we needed to do.”
Mountain Pointe’s defensive unit was at a disadvantage on nearly every one of Pinnacle’s drives, as the Pioneers started on the Pride’s side of the 50 on numerous occasions.
Even then, however, Mountain Pointe held its own.
It wasn’t until just over 4 minutes remained in the first quarter that Pinnacle was able to find the end zone. Mountain Pointe’s defense bit on a play-action fake, leaving Libman wide open behind the Pride secondary. Johnson was able to hit his wideout down the right sideline with ease for a 40-yard score.
“We knew they were athletic, we just had to play our game,” Libman said. “Defense really stepped it up for us tonight. We started to click on offense but then we made some mistakes. If we can fix that we are a really solid team.”
Both teams traded punts, fumbles and interceptions from that point on, as both offensive units struggled to sustain drives.
Mountain Pointe finally was able to gain some momentum as sophomore quarterback Landen Powell settled down in the pocket and found senior wideout Xavier Lockett for a 33-yard gain.
But penalties and further miscues, along with strong defensive play by Pinnacle, stalled the Pride’s drive.
“Our defense played lights out,” Pinnacle coach Dana Zupke said. “There was no need for concern on that side of the ball. We were pressuring them all night.”
An interception deep in Mountain Pointe’s territory by senior linebacker Mac Franklin set up Pinnacle’s second score of the night, an 8-yard run by senior running back Kenji Rolland.
Trailing 14-0 at the break, Mountain Pointe knew it needed an answer. The Pride started feeding senior running back Resi Shank in the second half both through the air and on the ground.
The Pride were gaining momentum, but a tipped pass at the line of scrimmage resulted in an interception. Mountain Pointe’s defense managed to hold Pinnacle to a field goal, but a pick-6 by Alonzo Maya the next drive shifted all momentum to the Pioneer side.
“The defense helped us all night by keeping us on a short field,” Zupke said. “Anytime you’re playing a Mountain Pointe team, you know you’re going to have to deal with athletes all over the field.
“I thought we were able to match that speed pretty well tonight.”
Shank, who had 122 total yards of offense against Faith Lutheran in Las Vegas, was limited to just 32 rushing yards and 34 receiving. Powell, who found himself under pressure on numerous occasions due to injuries across Mountain Pointe’s offensive line throughout the game, finished 11-for-22 for 90 yards and four interceptions.
Despite the lopsided score, Mountain Pointe’s defense flourished under pressure.
Pride defenders swarmed to the football on every play, at times resulting in fumble recoveries to keep the Pioneers out of the end zone. Most of Pinnacle’s points from its offense didn’t come until the midway point of the third quarter and into the fourth, as Johnson — who finished 10-for-13 for 136 yards and two touchdowns — connected with senior wideout Cade Horton on a 7-yard pass.
The win for Pinnacle (2-0) gives it momentum heading into its rivalry game against Horizon (2-0). Meanwhile, Mountain Pointe (1-1) will look to bounce back next week as they travel to Mesa to take on Mountain View (0-2).
“We need to come out from the jump and keep our energy up,” Hodge said. “We just need to come back out and get to work.”
MP – 0 0 0 0 – 0
PHS – 7 7 16 10 – 40
PHS – Johnson 40 pass to Libman (Malvick kick), 4:14
PHS – Roland 10 run (Malvick kick), :33
PHS – Miller 40 FG, 7:38
PHS – Maya 20 INT, 7:31
PHS – Johnson 7 pass to Horton, 6:30
PHS – Goodlow 7 run (Malvick kick), 10:02
PHS – Miller 30 FG, 1:27