Desert Vista had trouble against a Queen Creek looking to bounce back while missed field goals proved to be the difference for Mountain Pointe against Corona del Sol in a double-overtime thriller.
The Thunder finished the regular season with a loss to the Bulldogs, 43-29, while the Pride ended the season with an emotional, 34-33 loss to the Aztecs on Friday night.
The game started well for the Thunder, going up 21-7 towards the end of the first half. But once Queen Creek ended the half with a touchdown to cut the lead to seven points, the momentum started to shift in their favor.
The second half was where the Bulldogs took control of the game, scoring 15 unanswered points in the third quarter. The Thunder had a chance to change the momentum of the game but a turnover gave the Bulldogs the perfect field position to score the second touchdown of the quarter. Driven by it being senior night and not losing getting down on themselves, junior quarterback Devin Brown said he knew they wouldn’t lose this game.
Desert Vista wouldn’t simply lie down though, as on the very next drive the Thunder drove down the field and scored to tie it up. The defense wouldn’t be able to stop Queen Creek, however, as the Bulldogs scored 14 unanswered in the fourth quarter to end the game and send Desert Vista to the playoffs with a loss.
Desert Vista's defense struggled to get off the field and couldn’t finish plays as the Bulldogs collected several yards after contact. The offense was forced to play catchup after the turnover and never regained its full power after the second quarter.
Senior quarterback Parker Navarro said that the team needs to “learn from our mistakes on film and just truly look at the postseason as a new season and a fresh start.”
Head coach Dan Hinds said the loss, while tough, provides a learning opportunity for his team and during the postgame speech told his team that anyone can run the table.
“I believe that teams can create their own momentum and we can do that this week in practice and regardless of who we get, we need to create that momentum in the playoffs now,” Hinds said. “...There’s a lot that can be learned from a loss, I’m not saying we like losing but I’m saying we’re gonna learn a heck of a lot from this game.”
Win or lose, Mountain Pointe wouldn't make the playoffs this year for the first time since 2008. But the Pride still fought to the finish.
The first half was quiet, as the score was 7-7. The Aztecs scored their only first-half touchdown on a blocked punt return by junior linebacker Jake Schmitt, while the Pride scored theirs on a 1-yard run by senior running back Rashion Hodge.
In the third quarter, the Aztecs went up 14-7 off of a 1-yard run from junior running back Scott Musgrave.
The Pride immediately answered as sophomore quarterback Landen Powell connected with junior tight end Kevin Sawitzke to tie the game on a 37-yard touchdown pass.
Then, madness ensued.
The two teams traded blows, with Corona dialing up a trick play to score late in the fourth quarter. However, a missed PAT gave Mountain Pointe a chance.
Mountain Pointe got the ball back and on fourth down with 17 seconds left, Powell connected with Sawitzke once again on a 47-yard touchdown pass.
The game should’ve ended as all Mountain Pointe had to do was make the extra point attempt, but the Mountain Pointe players got penalized for celebrating. In turn, this caused the PAT to be moved back 10 yards where what could’ve been the game-winner was missed.
In both overtimes, both teams scored on all four of their possessions, but once again it came down to a PAT by Mountain Pointe. a 5-yard touchdown run by senior running back Resi Shank gave the Pride the lead. But they again missed the PAT.
Corona del Sol managed to score on its next possession and ultimately hit the extra point to win the game.
While a difficult loss, Mountain Pointe fought until the end. The Pride finish the season 1-9 and will look to rebuild in the offseason.
“It’s going to be a big offseason for us," Wellbrock said. "We’ll kind of see who steps up as we move forward and that starts on Monday."
AFN Contributing Writers Omar Soussi and Chris Fahrendorf contributed to this report.