CHANDLER - Chandler spent all week shaken from an embarrassing to loss to a city foe. Mountain Pointe was trying to convince itself that the lopsided win against a travel-weary, winless opponent corrected all of the negativity of a slow start to the year.
Both football programs couldn’t wait to see what was next.
Chandler came away from Thursday’s televised Division I clash in better shape heading into the second-half of the season after a 35-24 win over Mountain Pointe at Austin Field.
“We struggled all week, we gave up 58 points, but I was happy with the defense because they kept us in this game,” Wolves first-year coach Shaun Aguano said, referring to the team’s 58-41 loss to Basha last week. “I wanted to see how our kids rebounded and they did a pretty good job.”
Mountain Pointe coach Norris Vaughan was pleased with the effort despite falling to 2-3 with the team’s fourth-ranked opponent – Brophy – of the year next up on the schedule.
“We played well enough to win,” Vaughan said. “The effort was there and I am proud with how hard we played. We made too many mistakes, had too many turnovers, but we will get back to work and if we keep playing that hard we will be OK.”
Trailing 14-10, the Pride needed a defensive stop to open the second half.
Momentum might have been one three-and-out in the third quarter away, but it never came as Chandler (4-1) scored on its first two drives.
The blame, however, doesn’t fall on the defense’s shoulders.
Chandler opened the second half with its first possession on the Pride’s 30-yard line after Lloyd Mills had a 52-yard kickoff return. The short field led to a 1-yard scoring run by Paul Perkins, who finished with 135 yards on 16 carries.
The Pride’s ensuing drive was vital, but a quarterback/center exchange led to a fumble recovery by Chandler linebacker John Meile, who somehow came out of the pile and returned it 48 yards down to the Pride 5-yard line.
Chandler quarterback Darrell Garretson connected with tight end Patrick Baldenegro for a 3-yard touchdown and 28-10 advantage with 4 minutes and 36 seconds left in the third quarter.
“We took advantage of the short field and that’s what good teams do,” said Perkins, who started the scoring with a 44-yard interception return. “The offensive came through. The skill players can’t do anything without them.”
The Pride made several lineup changes throughout the game, trying to find the right combinations, and dealt with two starters out on defense with defensive linemen Mark Fraboni (concussion) and Jordan Leal (knee) missing their second straight games.
Mountain Pointe scored a couple of times in the fourth quarter on a Wesley Payne run and a Jalen Brown (4 catches, 64 yards) 15-yard reception from Dillan Johnson to make it interesting, but was done in by the four turnovers.
The first came when junior quarterback Caleb Buck (5 of 11 32 yards, 2 INT) was being pressured and threw an errant pass that Perkins took back for the score to give the Wolves’ defense some confidence after giving up nearly 700 yards last week to Basha.
By the end of the game the Pride reverted back to having Dillan Johnson (17 carries, 114 yards) behind center after Buck had his first start last week.
“We had a pick 6 when we probably should take a sack,” Vaughan said. “We played about as good as we could on defense and played well on offense when we held on to the ball. The turnovers killed us.”
Contact writer at (480) 898-7915 or JSkoda@ahwatukee.com. Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.
Chandler 35, Mountain Pointe 24
MP 7 3 0 14 - 24
C 7 7 14 7 - 35
First down 20 15
Rushes-yard 37-198 29-201
Pass yards 81 85
Comp-Att-Int 7-13-81-2 5-12-1
Fumbles-lost 4-2 1-1
Penalties 7-50 6-60
C - Perkins 44 INT return (Wilcox kick), 4:17
MP - Warren 3 run (Sheehan kick), 1:55
C - Mills 42 pass from Garretson (Wilcox kick), 11:06
MP - Sheehan 32 field goal, 0:00
C - Perkins 1 run (Wilcox kick), 8:27
C - Baldenegro 3 pass from Garretson (Wilcox kick), 4:36
MP - W. Payne 2 run (Sheehan kick), 11:26
C - Garretson 7 run (Wilcox kick), 4:55
MP - Brown 15 pass from Johnson (Sheehan kick), 53.8
VITALS: Chandler (4-1) opened the second half with touchdowns on its first two possessions to take a commanding 28-10 lead and did enough to keep the Pride (2-3) at bay in a Division I clash.
HIGHLIGHT: Mountain Pointe's Jalen Brown somehow managed to out jump two defenders and tear the ball out of a defensive back's hands for a 15-yard touchdown reception.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Chandler's Paul Perkins started the scoring with a 44-yard interception for a touchdown, opened the third quarter with a 1-yard touchdown and finished with 135 yards on 16 carries.
KEY STAT: Four turnovers. Mountain Pointe had trouble with center/quarterback exchange and junior quarterback Caleb Buck threw two interceptions.