Mt. View v. Gilbert

It was smash mouth, run the ball, old school football in Mesa as Mesa Mountain View hosted the Tigers of Gilbert High School in the first round of the 5A D1 playoffs.

Gilbert came out on offense after a touchback on the opening kick off. It was a ground assault early on, with a series of hand offs and pitch outs by Gilbert's multi-back formations. RB Paul Perry had a couple nice carries and RB Parker Heywood pounded the inside of the line for small gains. On 3rd and 10 Heywood took a pitch down the left side and ran 60 plus yards for the touchdown, but a holding call brought the ball back and after an incomplete pass, Gilbert was forced to punt the ball away on 4th and 8. A penalty on Gilbert for "interfering with the ability to make the catch" on the punt forced a re-kick from the 9 yard line.

The Toros got the ball with a short field after the second punt – 1st and 10 on the Gilbert 46. On their first play from scrimmage Mountain View QB Blake Decker went deep to TE Ron Taylor who was open in the end zone but the ball dropped right through his arms. After an illegal blocking call on the O-line that pushed the LOS back a few yards, MV went to the ground with a pitch to senior RB Gary Bresnahan who took the ball 48 yards down the sideline for six points. The Toros lined up in their offset PAT formation and instead of moving behind the center, a direct snap to RB Ernie Perea caught the Tigers off guard and he leapt across the goal line for a 2 point conversion. With left in the first quarter Mountain View was up 8 – 0.

On the ensuing kick off Bret Crowe returned the ball out 14 yards from the 20 giving Gilbert 1st and 10 on the 34 for their second drive. Once again it was all Heywood and Perry, but the Tigers only moved the chains once before Perry was tackled for a loss and QB Kienan Turner was sacked by Daniel Clemons. With 4th and 18 in their own territory Gilbert punted away.

Mountain View put together another solid drive starting on their own 26 yard line. Bresnahan had runs of 4, 12, and 13 yards – Perea had a run for 4 yards - and Decker connected with Ron Taylor for a 13 yard pass and WR Anthony Vickman for 6 yards. However, on 2nd and 8 Decker went deep and had his pass picked off by Colin O'Brien who brought it back out to the 9 yard line.

The first quarter ended with a QB keeper by Turner for no gain and a 4 yard run up the middle by Heywood. At the end of the first quarter Gilbert had yet to answer with a score and Mountain view led 8 - 0. Another run by Heywood started the 2nd quarter but it only went for 2 yards. Gilbert had 4th and 4 to go from their own 16. They punted away yet again and the kick was either shanked or partially blocked giving the Toros great field position again - on the Gilbert 34 yard line.

A pitch to WR James Kempton lost 5 yards, but Decker got 15 on the next play with a QB keeper. An unsportsmanlike like conduct penalty moved the ball even further into the red zone. With 1st and 10 on the 14 the Gilbert defense stiffened and gave up only 4 yards on a hand-off. The D sacked Decker and held him for no gain to bring up 4th down. Mountain View opted to attempt a field goal but the kick was wide right and with to go in the half Gilbert was still only down by and once again tried to get on the board.

A couple Turner keepers got 9 yards and Heywood moved the chains on 3rd. Another QB keeper by Turner went for 15 yards to move the ball to mid-field. Anthony McDaniel came in and got 8 yards on a pitch play, but and incomplete pass and a run for no gain brought up 4th and 2. Jesse Parker went for it with Heywood stretching the ball across the first down marker – it was a first down by an inch. A pitch to Perry and a give to the full back Chase Beatty gained 9 yard total and the next play, a pitch to Heywood went for 20 yards giving the Tigers a legit scoring threat as the half wound down. With 1st and 10 from the 14, the Tigers went backwards. A false start, a scramble for 2 yards and an incomplete pass brought about 3rd and 13 with about 90 seconds left. A delay of game penalty made things worse and sensing the pressure to score Turner lobbed a pass short of the end zone only to see it get intercepted by Alex Salas who brought it out of the end zone for a 21 yard gain.

Gilbert had no time to rest because Mountain View would try to score again with only a minute left. Each side used their time outs and Mountain View was only able to move the chains once. They punted on 4th down and gave Gilbert one last chance to get on the board before the half. After a couple quick dump passes and with only 2 seconds left Turner heaved a Hail Mary pass to the end zone – deja vu as Salas once again picked off the pass as time ran out. After a half of football the teams went to the locker room with the Toros up 8 – 0.

Mountain View's offense got the second half rolling, but quickly went 3 and out. After the punt and fair catch by McDaniel, Gilbert's next drive was strictly a ground attack. Heywood, Perry, Beatty, McDaniel and even junior Trey Fulton battled for yards. But the Gilbert ground game couldn't come up with 1 yard when they needed it, once again near the red zone on 4th and 1. Parker went for it and the Mountain View defense stuffed Heywood for a turn over on downs at the 23.

The Toros matched the ground effort giving the ball to Bresnahan twice, once outside for 13 yards and once between the tackles for 8 yards. Brett Hardison caught a screen pass and rumbled 20 yards down the side line before getting hit hard by Gilbert safety Bret Crowe. Mountain view had gone to the Gilbert 30 yard line and was once again threatening to score, but the Gilbert D played "bend but don't break" giving up short yards on two running plays and forcing an incomplete pass on 3rd down. With a 4th and 6 it was the Toros turn to turn the ball over on downs after an incomplete pass to Perea.

Gilbert was running out of time and the volley of bouncing back and forth between the 20 yard lines by both team seemed to be the most either team could muster. However, Gilbert would burst out for the longest play of the night on their next drive. After a 5 yard run by Heywood, and a Turner keeper for no gain, Heywood took a pitch off right tackle and dashed down the sideline for a 70 yard touchdown run. The Tigers tried to match the score with a two point conversion of their own – but a fatigued Heywood was stuffed before he could cross the goal line. Just as the 3rd quarter ended, Gilbert was on the board down 8 – 6.

With one quarter to play Mountain View either needed to hang on and win with their D or put up some more points for a cushion. On their next drive they came out with runs by Perea for 5 yards, David Hamblin for 6 yards, and a QB keeper by Decker that went for 13 yards. With 1st and 10 on the 49, and after an incomplete pass, the Toros looked to be in trouble after a block in the back infraction brought up 2rd and 30. A QB keeper went for 4 yards and a pass to Taylor across the middle went for 20. It was 4th and 5 and the Toros went for it and got it on a pass to WR James Kempton for 10 yards. After being buried, the MV offense stuck a dagger in the Gilbert D and continued to advance. A hand off to Hamblin and a give to Perea moved the chains again. A couple false start penalties and an incomplete pass brought up 4th and 8, and yet again Decker went to the air to convert – a nice pass to Perea went for 10 and moved the Toros into scoring position. Gilbert's run defense almost looked as if it would hold stuffing Perea on the one yard line twice and forcing another false start by Mountain View. But on 3rd and goal from the 6 the coach Tom Joseph went deep into the play book with a half back pass as Perea took the pitch from Decker faked the run and then threw to the opposite side of the field back to Decker who had snuck out of the traffic and was wide open in the end zone. The PAT was good and MV now led 15 – 6.

Gilbert had one last sustained drive but the clock was not in their favor. A 25 yard pass from Turner to Jesse Brantley kept some hope alive, and a few Turner scrambles and dump passes set up one last effort as the Tigers ran some trickery of their own on 4th and 4 from the 40 yard line. Parker drew up a double reverse pass and Chase Beatty was able to get his hands on it, but the pass was more of a lob and the Toro defenders were able to cause enough distraction for Beatty yielding the incompletion and the turn over on downs. Mountain View was able to "take a knee" to run out the clock on the game and the on Tiger's season. Final score Mountain View 15 – Gilbert 6.

Bottom Line: Gilbert had their chances and simply couldn't do what it took to match Mountain View's team play and athleticism. Each time Gilbert had something going a penalty or turn over would snuff any shot at a point scoring drive. Gilbert's lack of a passing game really seemed to hurt them this game and Mountain View stacked the box to stuff the run. The biggest difference was that Mountain View made plays when they needed to – whether it was 1st and 10 or 4th and 30 – they played focused and balanced football. There is lots of history between these two teams and Mountain View loved giving their old coach a quick exit from the second season.

Game balls: For Gilbert, Heywood gets the helmet sticker for his hard nosed running and big play to produce the only score of the night for the Tigers. On the other side of the ball O'Brien and Crowe played well in the secondary and Richie Couch was tough to move on the line. For Mountain View it is tough to single out the main force behind the win as everyone seemed to produce. I would say Decker on offense for his smart play at QB and since he came in for the injured Alex Harris half way through the season and led his team to a post season victory. On defense Jake Swisher on the line and Brandon Mathews at LB were key in stuffing the Gilbert ground attack.

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