(Editor's note: The AFN is re-publishing the game story from Aug. 24 as a look back to the first meeting between Mountain Pointe and Hamilton as the two teams prepare for the Division I state title game, which is scheduled to kickoff at 12:07 p.m. today.)
Ryan Sheehan repeated the mantra over and over again.
“One, two, three – go.”
It was pretty much the same approach the Mountain Pointe student body took Friday when it came to rushing Karl Kiefer Stadium a few minutes after Sheehan’s 22-yard field goal split the uprights and gave the Pride a 17-14 win over Hamilton.
“I just stayed cool,” Sheehan said. “I went through my normal routine – one, two three - go. After it went through, everyone went nuts and then everyone was on the field. Best feeling ever.”
Mountain Pointe, which scored 10 points in the final three minutes, including a 50-yard touchdown reception by Travonn White, had never beaten Hamilton and not many thought it would happen to open the 2012 season.
“We came in as the underdogs and we like that role,” junior Jalen Brown, who had a fumble recovery that change the complexion of the game. “We fought like we deserved that win. We didn’t let up and got what we wanted.”
The series of the events – whether it was Mountain Pointe making plays, Hamilton committing uncharacteristic mistakes or vice versa – led to a crazy second half after the Huskies, who have now lost two in a row to Ahwatukee schools after winning 53 straight overall, came out of the break leading 14-7.
“There were some crazy plays, some calls you don’t understand, and I am not saying they weren’t right, but a lot stuff was happening,” Pride coach Norris Vaughan said. “This group fought through all of that. We don’t do that last year.
“I asked them before the fourth quarter how tough they were. Well, they showed me something.”
Both defenses controlled the third quarter with Mountain Pointe forcing two straight three-and-outs and holding Hamilton to six second-half first downs.
The Pride offense couldn’t take advantage as the Hamilton defense started to slow down Garette Craig (83 yards rushing, 75 yards receiving) and Pride quarterback Antonio Hinojosa fought through a mid-game funk.
“I got a little late with my throws,” said Hinojosa, who finished 16 of 25 for 186 yards with a score and an interception. “But I got it together and we made the big plays down the stretch.”
The tide started to turn when Hamilton made some excruciating mistakes. During the Huskies’ state-record winning streak those type of miscues or they were able to overcome them.
Not on this night.
Hamilton’s AJ Thigpen played but well overall, but the senior quarterback had two critical mistakes and the offensive line had a holding penalty that wiped out an 80-yard pass to Frankie Felix, who was tackled on the 1-yard line, that would have answered the Pride’s game-timing score.
“We can point to many things, but (Mountain Pointe) was given some opportunities and they took advantage of it,” Hamilton coach Steve Belles said. “That’s what good teams do.”
Leading 14-7 in the fourth, Thigpen (24 yards rushing, 68 yards passing) drove the Huskies into the red zone and Belles sent out the field goal unit on fourth-down-and-6 but an encroachment penalty by Mountain Pointe gave Hamilton a first down after converting on 4th and 1.
On third down, Thigpen fumbled inside the 10-yard line after getting hit by Wesley Payne on an option when a field goal might have sealed it.
The ensuing drive led to Mountain Pointe’s game-tying score when Hinojosa connected with White. The Hamilton safety overplayed the receiver and White, who won the state’s long jump, out jumped the cornerback before racing the rest of the way to tie it at 14 with 2:57 left.
“It was in slow motion,” said White, who dropped a slant pass on the play before that might have gone the distance. “It was god-given talent. I went up and got it. I turned up field and no one was there. I couldn’t believe it was happening.”
Hamilton’s chance for a game-winning drive ended when Thigpen threw for an apparent first down, but was past the line of scrimmage.
“It doesn’t fall on him,” Belles said. “We had a lot of mistakes and didn’t play our best.”
The Pride took over on their 25 with less than two minutes remaining.
They got in position with the running game as Craig had runs of 17 and 12, while Wesley Payne broke free for a 11-yarder and three more to set up Sheehan.
“We didn’t play well and still won,” Payne said as he ran off the field among the scrum on the field. “This is huge for us. We wanted this bad. This is what the new Mountain Pointe is about.”
Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or JSkoda@ahwatukee.com. Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.
Mountain Pointe 17, Hamilton 14
Hamilton 0 14 0 0 - 14
Mountain Pointe 7 0 0 10 - 17
MP - Craig 15 run (Sheehan kick), 10:35.
H - Eggers 37 pass from Thigpen (Wickman kick), 10:14
H - Felix 14 run (Wickman kick), 4:37
MP - White 50 pass from Hinojosa (Sheehan kick), 2:57.
MP - Sheehan 23 kick, 0:03.
First downs 12 13
Rushing 28-142 23-124
Passing 4-9-68-1 16-25-186-1
Fumbles-lost 0-0 1-0
Penalties 8-75 12-105
Hamilton - Walters 13-75, Felix 4-30, Thigpen 8-24, Melcher 1-11, Adams 2-2. MP - Craig 10-83, Hinojosa 5-28, W. Payne 3-15, White 1-0, Warren 3-(-)2.
Hamilton - Thigpen 4-8-68-0, Sasso 0-1-0-1. Mountain Pointe - Hinojosa 16-25-186-1.
Hamilton - Simpson 2-27, Eggers 1-37, Lane 1-4. Mountain Pointe - Craig 9-75, Brown 5-52, Blakes 2-11, White 1-50.