Coming off consecutive games of 41 points allowed, the Desert Vista defense stood out in the Thunder’s 24-3 home victory over Mountain Pointe in the 2019 'Tukee Bowl.
With three interceptions, more sacks than it has accumulated all season and no touchdowns given up, coach Dan Hinds said it was the most complete game that side of the ball has put together in 2019.
“It’s by far the best our defense has played this year,” Hinds said.
“They kind of took the game over tonight. Without those guys playing the way they played, it would have been a different game.”
Both the Thunder and Pride defenses were great at first.
The teams went into halftime tied 3-3, as neither could move the ball well. However, as the Thunder’s running game continued to pound against the Pride, and ended up scoring 21 second-half points, their defense continued to win at all three levels of the field.
“In the first half we didn’t play so well on offense, so the defense said, ‘put it on us, and we’ll take it,’” said senior linebacker Braeden Belnap.
The normally run-heavy Pride threw several different trick play formations at the Thunder, including a few plays with running backs and wideouts receiving the snap. Pride receiver Dominique Davis even threw a pass, which the Thunder picked off for one of their three interceptions in the game.
With skilled players all over the field, used in a variety of ways, the defense had to simply play a fundamental game, stay in its gaps and trust teammates to make tackles in the open field.
“We knew they had a lot of weapons at running back and receiver, so that was going to be key,” senior corner Elijah Ervin said.
The defensive domination comes off a 41-24 loss to Desert Ridge, a team many of the Thunder players believe they should have defeated the week before.
They gave up 21 fourth-quarter points to the Jaguars, and were carved in the second half by the passing game.
Ervin said the overall defensive effort in response to the loss, even with a few big receptions downfield by Davis, was inspiring. He hopes the Thunder continue that success the rest of the regular season.
“It’s a big momentum shifter. We’re coming off the loss, so hopefully a big win like that gets us going in the other direction,” he said.
“We’ve got to continue winning out,” Hinds added. “If we do that and take it week-by-week, then we’ll just have to see how it shakes out.”