Starting the season 2-0 for the first time since their 2016 season, Mountain Pointe was looking to carry its hot hand into Friday night's matchup against Perry, who came in with a 1-1 record.
In order to have a chance in this game, Mountain Pointe head coach Eric Lauer said it would be key to take it moment by moment and mix up the playbook.
“Just execute well, stay in the moment of the play but have short-term memory when it’s time to go to the next one,” Lauer said. “We’re trying to be as versatile as possible. We’re trying to run when we need to run and pass when we need to pass.”
In a nail-biting finish filled with aggressive play-calling, key turnovers and timely defense on both ends, the Pride dropped their first game of the season to the Pumas 21-20.
To open up the game, Mountain Pointe started with the ball and put together an impressive drive, ending with a 1-yard rushing touchdown by senior running back Amire Williams. The Pride would end up failing on the two-point conversion.
On the following drive, Perry matched with a touchdown of their own, ending with a 4-yard passing touchdown from senior quarterback Colter Brown to senior wide receiver Hunter Martinez.
After the opening two drives, the defenses for both sides settled in, which resulted in a defensive battle until the end of the first half.
With less than three minutes remaining in the half, Perry took advantage of good field position after Mountain Pointe failed to convert on fourth down in its own territory. Brown threw a dime to junior wide receiver Jack Amer for a 20-yard touchdown.
Although the Pride didn’t come out on top, they left with the biggest highlight of the game right before halftime.
With less than a minute to go in the first half, senior quarterback Amier Boyd threw a jump ball into the end zone caught by senior wide receiver Jordan Huff for a 43-yard touchdown. The Pride would also convert on the two-point conversion, walking into the locker room at halftime tied 14-14.
The main storyline of the game for Mountain Pointe was the unexpected absence of their usual starting quarterback junior Christopher Arviso II, who Lauer said got sick right before kickoff.
“Our quarterback was sick, got sick at the last minute,” Lauer said after the game. “That was really a switch-flip for us that kind of put us mentally behind as a team.”
Without their quarterback, the Pride’s goal of mixing up the playbook going into the game was spoiled.
“When you don’t have your number one guy and he gets three quarters of the reps a week, it limits you with some of the stuff that you want to do,” Lauer said.
Entering the second half, Perry came out of the gate with the upper hand. The Pumas controlled the time of possession throughout most of the third quarter and got the only score of the quarter thanks to a 6-yard rushing touchdown by Brown.
Going into the fourth quarter, it looked like Perry was looking to ice the game with another touchdown until Mountain Pointe junior defensive back Achun McElwee intercepted a pass in the end zone.
After a running play by Boyd, the Pride ended the huge drive on a 22-yard rushing touchdown by junior running back Jay’len Rushing. Once again, the Pride would fail on the two-point conversion and would trail 21-20 with 5:45 left in the fourth quarter.
The Mountain Pointe defense got a big stop and the ball back with less than four minutes to go. But the Pride were stopped by the Pumas and failed to convert the game-deciding fourth down.
Perry head coach Preston Jones said time of possession was one of the main keys to the game in order to limit the amount of offensive firepower on the opposite sideline.
“If you can not play great and still win, we’re going to enjoy it and we’re going to celebrate because with our schedule, any victory is a big victory for us because every team we play is tough,” Jones said. “We are going to celebrate every win we have.”
It was a special game for junior defensive back Timmy Allen, who is dedicating this season, and especially this game, to his father who recently passed away.
“[The goal is to] just play hard, just do the best I can to show my dad,” Allen said. “That’s what he would want me to do. That’s the best work ethic I could have.”
His dad would have celebrated his birthday on Friday.
“With the diversity he has faced, he really hasn’t flinched. We try to rally around him, make sure we’re here if he needs anything but he has been a champion in that regard,” Lauer said. “He hasn’t missed practice or anything like that.”
Mountain Pointe (2-1) will host Casteel (1-1) at home next Friday.