Coming off a disappointing loss to Desert Ridge a week ago, Mountain Pointe coach Norris Vaughan couldn’t stress to his players the importance of this game any more.
“It was a huge game. I’m really proud of my kids,” Vaughan said after his Pride defeated Westwood, 18-7 Friday night in a Class 5A-Division I East Valley region game. “It was one we certainly needed badly.”
Mountain Pointe (6-2, 3-1) improved to 3-1 in region play behind a stout defense that held Westwood to just a single touchdown.
The Pride were first to strike – although they weren’t many – with a 6-yard touchdown pass from Kyle Faunce to Garrett Holle late in the first quarter.
Neither team was able to gain momentum on offense, as the two teams combined for five interceptions.
It was a field day for defensive backs, with none being more impressive than Mountain Pointe freshman Jalen Brown. Brown had a coming-out party of sorts, accounting for all three Mountain Pointe interceptions. His second pick of the night, with 5:28 left in the fourth quarter, effectively ended the game, as Mountain Pointe had a two-possession lead. His third and final pick came on Westwood’s final drive inside of three minutes to go in the game.
Although overshadowed by the Pride’s defense, Westwood (5-4, 2-3) held its own on the defensive side of the ball.
“We were definitely worried about that offense coming in. I thought my guys played with a lot of heart and effort,” said Westwood coach Greg Mendez.
Westwood began to mount a comeback late in the second quarter trailing 15-0. After a long kickoff return by Billy Sueing, the Warriors were aided by two personal foul calls against the Pride. They took advantage of the field position and the penalties, finishing off the drive with a 13-yard touchdown run by Raekwon Robinson.
Continuing that momentum, Westwood’s Valencio Gray picked off Faunce on Mountain Pointe’s first possession of the second half. The Warrior offense, however, never materialized into a scoring threat against the Pride.
“We just couldn’t make plays when we had to. They definitely are a good football team and they made plays when they had to,” Mendez said.
Mountain Pointe’s usually potent rushing attack was held relatively in check, amassing 156 yards on 35 carries. Both teams used effective – although not explosive – ground games to control the clock. Westwood’s Gray rushed for 93 yards on 18 carries, but could not get much help from the rest of the Warrior offense.
Mountain Pointe’s players said they knew they had a lot at stake after being upset last week.
“We just focused, not worrying about last week, and worried about the future,” Brown said.
Added Vaughan of the freshman Brown’s big night: “You remember that name, Jalen Brown. He’s going to be pretty good.”
Mountain Pointe 8 7 0 3 18
Westwood 0 7 0 0 7
Mountain Pointe Westwood
First Downs 14 10
Rushes-yards 35-156 31-133
Passing yards 85 33
Comp-Att-Int 9-15-2 5-13-3
Fumbles-lost 0-0 0-0
Penalties 9-90 6-35
Phoenix Mountain Pointe (6-2, 3-1 East Valley Region) defeated Mesa Westwood (5-4, 2-3) in a Class 5A-Division I region tilt at Westwood.
With Mountain Pointe nursing a two-score lead, freshman Jalen Brown intercepted his second pass of the night around the 5:30 mark in the fourth quarter to effectively seal the win.
Player of the game:
Mountain Pointe freshman Jalen Brown had three interceptions for the Pride.
The teams combined for five interception in a defensive showcase.
MP- Holle 6 pass from Faunce (conversion good) (1st, 0:17)
MP- Leal 3 run (Kadisak kick) (2nd, 2:43)
W- Robinson 13 run (Finckbone kick) (2nd, 1:00)
MP- Kadisak 43 field goal (4th, 7:51)