Some will call it a statement game. Or say that Mountain View is “back.” It's either the resurgence of a once-storied program or some such cliché.
“They are going to have a surprise for them,” said Mountain View receiver Clark Brown said of the Toros' remaining opponents.
Brown and his teammates certainly surprised Pinnacle on Friday. The junior wideout ran back two punts for touchdowns, caught a touchdown pass and then had a 50-yard kickoff return to set up the go-ahead score in the Toros’ 43-31 upset of previously-unbeaten Pinnacle on Friday night.
The Pioneers (5-1) led early before Brown’s runbacks and took advantage of Mountain View fumble inside its 10 to regain the lead 31-30 with 5:23 left.
Brown had one more big play to go.
He caught the ball at the 8, weaved his way through the coverage as he did on his first-half punt returns. He nearly broke it all the way, but was barely tripped up at the Pioneer 42.
“It’s just finding a seam and hitting it hard and not second-guessing yourself,” Brown said of his night of returns. “Just hitting it and going.”
It looked like Mountain View (4-2) would stall on fourth-and-9 at the 41 , but Pinnacle was called for pass interference on a John Clark pass and the Toros were alive at the 26. Clark handed off to Weston Birtcher, who broke through the line up the middle and put the Toros ahead for good.
Pinnacle had one last chance to redeem itself and were moving the ball when Michael Sanders looked out to the flat and Mountain View’s Caleb Nicoll stepped in front of the receiver at the 40, went down the sideline, and got around Sanders for the insurance touchdown.
“I read the quarterback, saw where he was throwing it, and picked it. It’s the most exciting moment of my life,” Nicoll said. “It felt pretty far, and I saw (Sanders), juked him, felt pretty good about it. The end zone.”
Mountain View had a 23-17 lead at halftime after Luis Bustillos hit a 48-yard field goal right before the half. All three touchdowns had come on big plays.
Opening the third quarter, the Toros drove 82 yards, and took more than five minutes off the clock before Birtcher dove in from the 1 to give Mountain View a 30-17 lead with 6:44 left in the third. Only a great 1-on-1 play by Cules Rose allowed Pinnacle to get back within one possession when he caught a 46-yard TD pass from Sanders.
The teams traded possessions but when Pinnacle had a fourth-and-13 at its 47, Mountain View did not send anyone back to receive the punt, thinking the Pioneers might fake it with 6:41 left in the game. Pinnacle pinned the Toros at their 9-yard line.
On the next play, quarterback Chase Funk and Birtcher mishandled the handoff, and Pinnacle’s Evan Tompkins picked the ball off in mid-air and ran it back to the 1. Sanders scored three plays later to give the Pioneers the lead with 5:23 remaining.
Pinnacle had averaged 47 points a game and wasn’t seriously threatened all season, even by a good Horizon team a week ago, but had their hands full with the Toros, who made stops when they needed to and adjusted against Sanders and Pinnacle running back Josh Hoekstra, who was held to 52 yards rushing, more than 100 under his season average.
For the Toros, things have been looking up in 2012. After losing to Desert Mountain and Desert Ridge, Mountain View has won four straight, scoring 190 points during the stretch.
“Everything is going in the right direction,” DeGrenier said. “The kids are working hard. Our theme is return to the Mountain View (of the past), and that’s what we are trying to do.”
But don’t tell DeGrenier about how his team is “back.”
“All I will say to that is that we are getting better and we are going to keep working hard and be ready for Red Mountain," he said. "Hopefully we keep on getting victories.”
Mountain View 43, Pinnacle 31
Pinn 10 7 7 7 - 31
MV 13 10 7 13 – 43
First Downs: Pinnacle 20, Mountain View 13
Rushes-yards: Pinnacle 39-135, Mountain View 25-151
Passing: Pinnacle 23-36-1-297, Mountain View 13-28-1-147
Fumbles-lost: Pinnacle 2-0, Mountain View 2-1
Penalties: Pinnacle 6-55, Mountain View 7-45
P-Rose 79 pass from Sanders (Sweet kick)
P-Sweet 28 FG
MV-Brown 59 punt return (kick failed)
MV-Brown 45 pass from Clark (Bustillos kick)
MV-Brown 50 punt return (Bustillos kick)
P-Tompkins 2 run (Sweet kick)
MV-Bustillos 48 FG
MV-Birtcher 1 run (Bustillos kick)
P-Rose 46 pass from Sanders (Sweet kick)
P-Sanders 1 run (Sweet kick)
MV-Birtcher 26 run (pass failed)
MV-Nicoll 60 interception return (Bustillos kick)