It was a game that both Sunrise Mountain and Westview had to win. For the Mustangs, a win would put them in the driver's seat for a 5A division 2 playoff berth following their big upset win last week over Ironwood. For the Knights, it was do or die. A loss would force them to sweep their final three games to get to the playoffs, a win would make the road less bumpy. When it was all said and done, Westview combined a killer rushing attack with an opportunistic defense to lasso the Mustangs 41-38 in one of the most exciting games seen on Cox 7 in a while.
The game at Westview started with all the makings of a Knight rout. After holding Sunrise Mountain on downs to open the game, the Knights drove the ball 83 yards on eight plays, all on the ground. Junior jumbo back Kris Pointdexter polished off the drive with a short dive and Westview led 7-0.
The Mustangs then drove the ball down deep in Knight territory courtesy of a big 37 yard run by Cole Ptacek but on 4th and short were stopped on a great play by Westview senior linebacker Dan Crowe. Junior Nate Jones took an inside hand off on the second play from scrimmage and went 55 yards for the score. Jones, injured for the first two games this season, is making up quickly for lost time. He had over 200 yards rushing on the night and combined with Senior Brendon Crudup for over 400 as the Knights rushed for almost 500 yards for the game. A short TD pass from Lane Bernhardt to tight end Paul Patino after an interception by Mitchell Matthews and Westview was seemingly in control 21-0.
That's when Sunrise Mountain decided to release the horses. All-everything senior Curt Sweeney got things rolling when he picked off a Bernhardt pass and returned it deep into Westview territory. Ptacek scored on terrific 13 yard run for the Mustangs first score. Then, with just under a minute to go, Senior signal caller Ryan Moeller unleashed an 83 yard bomb to wideout Tim Ellis to cut the lead to 21-14 at the half.
Sunrise Mountain came out smoking in the third quarter, taking the lead on a field goal by Sweeney and another outstanding run from 11 yards by Ptacek. The senior ran for over 150 yards and 2 scores on the night, going over the 800 yard mark for the season. 24 straight points and the Mustangs took the lead 24-21.
It was back and forth like this the whole second half with great plays and timely stops. Crudup went 80 yards the first play of the next series for a score, diving for the pylon. Jones goes 75 yards to pay dirt on the first play of fourth quarter for what seemed like the knockdown blow. Knights up 10. Sweeney then makes a great effort on a short swing pass making a host of Knights miss and scores from 45 yards out to close the gap to 3. Then on 3rd and 11, Sweeney again take a short pass 30 yards for a score and the Mustangs regain the lead.
Gut check time for Westview. They take over on their 20 after the kickoff and pound out a six minute, 80 yard drive to take the lead once and for all. Key play in the drive was a gutsy fourth and 5 call by Knight coach Jeff Bowen to Crudup, who powered over standout Sunrise Mountain linebacker Vinnie DiMichael to keep the drive alive. Jones scores from 9 yards. 41-38 Westview.
The Mustangs had one more crack with just under 2 minutes. They drove it to midfield and looked like a lock to get at least a field goal to tie it up. Moeller then threw an ill advised ball that Patino intercepted. Game over. Knights alive in the 5A division 2 playoff race.
Great game. Great plays. Not a whole lot of defense in this one. Gold stars to Sweeney, Ptacek, and Vinnie DiMichael on the Sunrise Mountain side. These guys can score with anyone. It's stopping people that could haunt them down the road. They're going to have to toughen up defensively. The should beat Tolleson and LaJoya to get into the playoffs. This is a fun team to watch.
Westview has it's work cut out for them. The next two weeks will probably tell the story when they take on Centennial and Maryvale. They'll probably have to beat one of them and close out the season with a win at Tolleson to make the playoffs. The good news is that Nate Jones and Crudup are healthy and they get leading rusher Lloyd Jones back next week. Their young offensive line is jelling and Patino makes plays on the defensive side of the ball. This is a team that could make some noise if they get in the playoffs. If they can develop a quarterback next season, watch out. They should be ranked high in the pre-season.
You want some 4A action? You've got it this week when the Cox7 game of the week goes to one of our favorite places, Greenway High school, to see the Demons host Saguaro. This should be a good one. Tyler Porras of Saguaro and Kenton Thomas of Greenway. Two division one prospects. Make sure you tune in Thursday at 7 to Cox7, the home of high school sports.