Mountain Pointe coach Norris Vaughan had enough of the indecision, the botched plays in the backfield and mini-identity crisis the Pride offense has dealt with in recent weeks.
So he returned to his coaching roots and cued up last year's tactics of calling nearly all running plays against Desert Vista in the 14th annual Ahwatukee Bowl.
The Pride rolled up 381 yards, including 218 from Isaac Kartz, as Mountain Pointe beat the Thunder 20-17 at Karl Kiefer field on Thursday to win its second straight in the series.
"We wanted to come out and be physical," Vaughan said. "We really wanted to come out and assert ourselves with the offensive line and the running game. We are physical and we had to show it."
It helped getting Kartz back after he missed the last two games, and essentially all but one play in the season opener, because a big cast kept him from being able to take a handoff cleanly.
"It was tough not playing," said Kartz, who had a 64-yard second quarter touchdown. "I did everything to prepare but the coaches held me out. The offensive line came up big and there were some big holes."
Vaughan said that Kartz has 4.4 speed and packs a punch in his 5-foot-8, 166-pound frame.
"He can scoot," Vaughan said. "We have some small backs who are fast, but he is quick in the hole and he is strong, tough to bring down."
Despite tearing up huge chunks of yardage the Pride (3-1) had to come up with a defensive stand - something it couldn't do last week against Chandler Basha - to put the Thunder (2-1) away.
Desert Vista, which converted two 4th down plays on the 15-play, 80-yard drive, closed within 20-17 with 4:15 left when Aaron Smith hauled in a 20-yard pass on 3rd and goal from the 20 from Hunter Rodriguez.
Mountain Pointe had a chance to end it on the next possession, but came up short on a 4th and 1 at the DV 39-yard line when Kartz was bottled up.
The Thunder took over with 1:54 left but Rodriguez was intercepted by Martin Moriel after linebacker James Withers put the pressure on the Desert Vista quarterback.
"We had our chances," Desert Vista coach Dan Hinds said. "I felt like we moved the ball on them, but didn't get enough at the end."
Mountain Pointe linebacker Izzy Marshall had another dominant game defensively but he was hardly alone as Withers and defensive tackle Chad Papineau were disruptive as well.
"We played great team defense," Marshall said. "We knew we could stop them when we had to. They got some big plays, but we played good enough to win."
The Thunder defense, which was without defensive end Sean Coffinger and linebacker Mike Arredondo because of knee injuries, gave up all of that yardage - Dillan Johnson finished with 110 yards to back Kartz - but only yielded up three points in the second half, in part because Kartz fumbled on the DV 2-yard line just before a would-be score that led to a touchback.
The game was 17-10 at the half and Mountain Pointe came out of the intermission and made it a two-score game when Kevin Kadisak made a 38-yard field for a 20-10 lead.
"We did some things right and made some mistakes," Hinds said. "This team is getting better every day. Most of these kids had never played in an Ahwatukee Bowl or against a team this good and we never quit.
"I am proud with the way we played, but it sure would have been nice to play score at the end."
After throwing for more than 500 yards total in the first three games, Mountain Pointe only threw the ball four times in the first half and nine times total for 34 yards.
"It doesn't matter how we did it as long as we won," Marshall said. "Beating your rivalry team at home your senior year, there's nothing betterThere's nothing better."
Mountain Pointe 20, Desert Vista 17
First downs 14 17
Rushes-yards 31-125 45-381
Passing yards 125 34
Comp-Att-Int 9-23-1 5-9-1
Fumbles-lost 1/0 3/2
Penalties 5-53 5-55
Desert Vista 3 7 0 7—17
Mountain Pointe 3 14 3 0—20
DV – 32 field goal, 8:27
MP – Kevin Kadisak 40 field goal, 3:11
MP – Issac Kartz 64 run (Kadisak kick), 6:42
DV – Mike Ingrassia 32 run (Geisking kick), 4:46
MP – Kyle Faunce 1 run (Kadisak kick), 2:31
MP – Kadisak 38 field goal, 9:05
DV – Aaron Smith 20 pass from Hunter Rodriguez (Geisking kick), 4:15