28-21…Mountain Pointe upsets Bishop Gorman on nat’l TV

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                </div>The Pride lived up to their name last night.  And the Sollenberger Kick-off Classic lived up to the hype. Today the Mountain Pointe High School football team is the pride […]<!-- AddThis Sharing Buttons below -->
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The Pride lived up to their name last night.  And the Sollenberger Kick-off Classic lived up to the hype.

Today the Mountain Pointe High School football team is the pride of Arizona after running up more than 400 yards of total offense to upset Nevada powerhouse Bishop Gorman, 28-21.

And, to make it even sweeter, the battle for bragging rights between the two states was played out in front of a national audience.

Gorman, going with a new quarterback for the first time in four years, went three-and-out in the first series of the game.  Mountain Pointe wasted no time establishing the fact that they weren’t intimidated playing in the Gaels’ new luxury facilities against a team ranked as high as No. 18 in the country by Rivals.com.  They stuck the ball in the end zone on the very next play.

Junior running back Paul Lucas took the first play from scrimmage to the house, scoring on a 48-yard touchdown run to draw first blood.  He finished with 143 yards and a pair of touchdowns, but it was his senior teammate in the backfield, Wesley Payne, that took over in the second half and finished the game with 167 yards and a score.

They were able to pick up that yardage because Mountain Pointe was able to dominate the line of scrimmage behind its highly-recruited senior guard, 240-pound Natrell Curtis.

Gorman relied on its senior quarterback, Randall Cunningham Jr. (son of the NFL great by that name), a good dual-threat QB that picked up 82 yards passing and 100 rushing.  But Mountain Pointe counted on its bruising ground game, which met with much success as it picked up 328 yards rushing – which was almost 100 yards more than Gorman’s total offense.

But the win wouldn’t have come without great play by the defense, which held Gorman to two touchdowns, something the Gaels seldom experience.  Gorman’s other score came on a 92-yard kick-off return late in the game that put the host team within one touchdown of tying it up.

The play of the game might even have been the fourth-and-inches defensive stand that held off the Gaels when they were threatening to score late in the game on The Pride’s 11-yard line.

Mountian Pointe kept the ball on the ground and continued to grind out the yardage for the final five minutes on the clock and secure an impressive upset

In Nevada, the Gaels are a dominant force.  They haven’t lost a game to an in-state opponent since 2008 and have won by 20 points or more in all but one of those contests.

But that mystique hasn’t seemed to matter much to Arizona teams.  This makes the third loss in four times Gorman has represented Nevada in the eight years of the Sollenberger Classic, which has become the unofficial start to the high school season and tries to put the top teams from both states together on the same field.

Overall, the Gaels have outscored their opponents by an incredible margin of 3,105-65 during the four years that Tony Sanchez has been the head coach.  The four games that they have lost during that span have all been to nationally-ranked teams.

And playing on national television – last night’s game was one of the first telecast on the new Fox Sports1 network – isn’t much of a distraction for the Gaels; the game with Mountain Pointe is the 10th time since 2009 that they’ve played in front of a national audience.

While the Gaels have won the pas four big-school state titles in Nevada, Mountain Pointe is still looking for its first.  Last year they made it to the Division I championship game for the first time, but lost to perennial power Hamilton High by two touchdowns.

They actually beat Hamilton last year in the opening game, a win that established them as a legitimate power in the prep game.  And that no doubt made an impression since they were picked to represent Arizona this year at the Sollenberger, an honor which normally would have gone to Hamilton as the state champ.

And The Pride didn’t disappoint.  Last night’s win over a national powerhouse could have been even bigger.  Mountain Pointe turned the ball over four times and two of those miscues were in the red zone.

Last year’s win over Hamilton in the opener set the tone for a season that came up just short of a state title.

This season-opener has to be considered even bigger.  So maybe it will provide the momentum The Pride needs to go all the way to that first state championship it has been chasing.

One thing for sure… Bishop Gorman probably wouldn’t be willing to bet against it.