The scene probably should have been chaotic, but if the Mountain Pointe football team has proven anything in this coronary of a season, it is the Pride have an ability to keep still in flinching moments.
Instead of tearing into each in the PE lecture hall at halftime Friday night after a less than spectacular first half, Mountain Pointe remained focused and communicative.
“It was quiet,” Pride offensive coordinator Eric Lauer said. “We were focused on our adjustments. Their heads were hanging and we had to get them straightened out.”
That they did.
Top-ranked Mountain Pointe pulled it together and played at a different level in the second half to beat No. 5 Chandler, 28-27, in overtime at Karl Kiefer Stadium in a game that saw three missed chip-shot field goals in the final two seconds of regulation and OT.
The win was the Pride’s third over a top 5 division I team in the first five weeks of the season as they sit at 5-0 heading into next week’s game at Brophy (4-2), another top-5 squad.
“That’s what our schedule is right now,” Pride coach Norris Vaughan said. “We have to get ready again. That’s what is tough. If we were playing the School of the Blind that would be great, but we’re not. It is really good for us to play under pressure like this. We are showing we can do some things when are focused and not making mistakes.”
The mistakes were aplenty in the first half and the waning moments of the second half and OT, but somehow Mountain Pointe got the win after Vaughan went to the bullpen.
Sophomore kicker John Abercrombie came off the bench to hit the game-winning extra point after junior Ryan Sheehan, who had the game-winner against Hamilton in the season opener, missed two chip-shot field goals at the end of regulation (22 yards and 18 yards) after a roughing the kicker call gave him a second chance with no time on the clock.
“He missed two, we had to do it,” Vaughan said.
Abercrombie’s PAT came after Dejohn Edwards, who took a big hit and held on, caught a 10-yard pass when the Chandler linebackers shifted away from him just before the snap on second-and-10 in overtime to tie the score at 27.
“It was my first ever touchdown on varsity,” Edwards said with a huge smile. “I was waiting forever but it was all worth it since it was a game-winner like that.”
Chandler (4-1) had first possession of the OT and scored on its first play when Darell Garretson (15 of 27 for 177 yards, 2 TDs) connected with a wide open Patrick Baldenegro when the Pride linebacker sucked up on the play fake, but kicker Scott Knudson missed to the right.
“We came out and fought and kept fighting,” Garretson said. “We have to do our thing and bounce back.”
The Pride’s halftime scene while trailing 14-6 might have been quiet but it must have been poignant because Mountain Pointe came out with a different pace and purpose.
In the first half, the Pride had two touchdowns (three overall) called back, had several personal fouls on defense to extend Chandler drives and fumbled inside the Wolves’ 20-yard line. The latter directly led to the Wolves’ go-ahead drive just before the half.
“Our kids played hard with a lot more discipline in the second half,” Vaughan said. “The penalties and turnovers killed us. It was frustrating but we got it figured out.”
The Pride scored on their first possession of the second half (after having another TD called back earlier in the drive) when Antonio Hinojosa found Garette Craig (182 yards rushing) for 12 yards and went for the 2-point conversion on a Thair Blakes sliding catch despite having a procedure call cancel out the first conversion to tie it at 14.
After a Chandler pooch punt pinned the Pride at their own 3, they went on a five-minute drive, keyed by a 45-yard bomb on a beautiful throw by Hinojosa (7 of 14 for 123 yards and an INT) to Jalen Brown (three catches for 94 yards). That drive ended on Wesley Payne’s 5-yard score on fourth-and-1 for the 21-14 lead.
Considering the Pride defense had not given up a single point in the second half all season to that point, the Wolves, who played without their top running back Branden Jenkins because of back spasms, had some work to do and the Chandler’s credit the players came through.
The Wolves not only tied it on Garretson’s 1-yard run with 6:33 left in the game, but took the lead in the first OT.
“It came down to the kicks,” Chandler coach Shaun Aguano said. “It’s how the game goes. Two evenly matched teams. Both sides made plays but I am proud of my kids. The rest of the state better be ready because we are pretty good.”
In the end, however, the Pride were once again the team to have chaotic celebration in the end.
“We knew were going to get it going in the second half,” senior linebacker Landry Payne said. “It was a bad first half, but we talked about cleaning it up and putting it away.”