Toward the end of the first half of its 5A-I football quarter final game with Chandler Basha, Mountain Pointe was playing with deuces.
But in the end, when it was time to put all the cards on table, the Pride had an ace up their sleeve.
After the Bears went up 21-14 in overtime, Pride senior running back Davon Jones scored on a 2-yard run, leading Pride first-year coach Norris Vaughan to gamble the jackpot and the undefeated season on a two-point conversion to win.
The Pride scooped up the winnings after Jones went around the left side, looked inside, then ran outside to give the Pride a 22-21 overtime victory and trip the Class 5A-I final four in two weeks against Mesa High.
Mountain Pointe kicker Jon Mora had lined up for the conventional one-point conversion, but the Bears were flagged for an off-side penalty.
That only moved the ball a yard, but it was enough for Vaughan to go for broke with Jones.
“I was surprised,” Jones said. “I though we were going to kick the extra point, then after the penalty coach asked everyone if we wanted to go for it. We all said, ‘Yeah,’ and then he said to me give the ball so I just did it.”
It is the first time the Pride have gone to the semifinals since the 11-2 team reached the Final Four in 1995.
Mountain Pointe was 2-8 last season.
What was expected to be a high-scoring game was just the opposite through the early going until the Pride started drawing twos.
Jones, who wears No. 22, scored on a 7-yard run with 2:22 remaining in quarter No. 2 to give the Pride a 7-0 lead at the intermission.
Mountain Pointe blocked a 25-yard field goal attempt by Basha’s Brandon Foutz in the final two seconds, but they had a harder time trying to contain Bears quarterback Michael Benjamin in the second half.
After halftime, Benjamin completed 8-of-9 passes for 126 yards, and ran for another 110 yards and three touchdowns, including one in overtime.
His ice-breaker came midway through the third quarter when he officially scored on a 50-yard run, but covered three times that much ground as he crisscrossed the field four times eluding Pride tacklers along the way.
Benjamin put the Bears up, 14-7, with a 15-yard scoring run with a little less than four minutes remaining in the third quarter and the Pride were scrambling.
But a 33-yard pass from Pride quarterback Austin Blom to Jones got the Pride within striking distance at the Basha 12-yard line and De’Andre Currie finished it off with a blast through the left side of the line.
Vaughan later said it wasn’t as much a gamble as playing the odds.
“We went for it because we weren’t playing well at that time on defense,” Vaughan explained. “And (Benjamin) was doing a lot and made some big plays.”
Vaughan also wanted to call while he was still holding the high cards.
“It depends on the situation, he said. “ I felt like the advantage was with them in the overtime but I felt like we had a good chance to make it.”
It was the second time this season the Pride have come from behind to beat the Bears. Mountain Pointe came back from a 10-0 deficit in the fourth game of the season to win 21-10.
“It hurts to lose, but Basha played great and showed a lot of class,” Vaughan added, “and coach (Tim) McBurney was very gracious after the game. They played as hard as they could play and so did we.”
In between, Vaughan was frustrated with the broken plays, penalties and mistakes.
“That wasn’t typical of us,” he added. “But we won another game and we’re going to the final four.”
The decision to call Jones’ number probably wasn’t that difficult. He had already run for 1,684 and 28 touchdowns this season.
He made the last two -- even though they technically don't count in the personal stat book -- look easy as he went around the outside and into the end zone standing up.
Against Basha Jones carried the ball 20 times for 82 yards and two touchdowns.
“They’re a tough team,” Jones added, “and I had to read that play right.”
But when it was over it was difficult for Jones and the Pride to keep wearing their poker face.
Basha 0 0 14 0 7 21
Mountain Pointe 0 7 0 7 8 22
Basha Mountain Pointe
First downs 16 11
Rushes-yards 32-132 36-167
Passing yards 176 64
Comp-att.-int. 12-17-0 5-10-0
Fumbles-lost 2-2 4-1
Penalties-yards 6-52 10-70
No. 2 Phoenix Mountain Pointe improved its record to 12-0 under first-year head coach Norris Vaughan with a 22-21 victory in overtime over No. 7 Chandler Basha in the second round of the Class 5A-1 state playoffs.
After Basha scored on its first overtime possession (with PAT) to take a 21-14 lead, Mountain Pointe's Davon Jones scored from two yards out to make it 21-20. A Basha penalty on the extra point try moved Mountain Pointe closer to the goal, and Jones scored on a two-point conversion run to win it from less than two yards out.
Players of the game:
In defeat, Basha quarterback Michael Benjamin did everyone the Bears could have asked for. Basha trailed 7-0 at halftime, and after the break, the game belonged to Benjamin. He completed 8-of-9 second half pass attempts for 126 yards and carried the ball 14 times after the intermission for 110 yards and three touchdowns. For the game, Benjamin was 12-of-17 for 176 yards passing with 141 yards rushing on 23 carries with three scores.
The 2009 Mountain Pointe team, a year after finishing 2-8, has won 12 games for the first time in program history.
MP - Jones 6 run (Mora kick)
B - Benjamin 50 run (Foutz kick)
B - Benjamin 15 run (Foutz kick)
MP - Currie 7 run (Mora kick)
B - Benjamin 2 run (Foutz kick)
MP - Jones 2 run (Jones conversion run)