Desert Vista pulls off miraculous play to beat Mountain Pointe in Ahwatukee Bowl

Posted: October 6, 2018 / Source:

Parker Navarro was just trying to escape a sack on third-and-9. He rolled left, ran up the field and, just before crossing the line of scrimmage, fired a pass between two defenders.

Dominic Shepardson caught it, shed a tackler and broke loose down the sideline for a 36-yard touchdown that ended up being visiting Phoenix Desert Vista's winning touchdown to end a six-game streak of losing to Phoenix Mountain Pointe and take the Ahwatukee Bowl trophy.

"I felt like it was a fair throw," Navarro said after the 28-27 victory.

Shepardson knew Navarro's scrambling abilities would lead to something big.

"I knew I had to make a play," he said.

That play came with 4:12 left, enough time for quarterback Nick Wallerstedt to perform some of his own magic.

But after a stop, Desert Vista got pinned at its 1-yard line on a punt with 2:30 left. Navarro was thinking he couldn't take negative yardage with a safety that would give Mountain Pointe the victory.

Desert Vista wins Ahwatukee Bowl for first time since 2011 Richard Pollitt, Salisbury Daily Times

Colby Humphrey's 13-yard run on third down gave Desert Vista a chance to work the clock down to 1:06 before punting the ball away.

This time, Wallerstedt got Mountain Pointe to the Desert Vista 27 after an 18-yard pass to Ahmen Williams. With no timeouts, Wallerstedt spiked the ball with 11 seconds left. 

Wallerstedt was signalling to the sideline with a kicking gesture, but coach Rich Wellbrock didn't think Ben Abercrombie was in range to make a game-winning field goal.

Instead, Wallerstedt launched a deep pass that Kaleo Bright intercepted, and the white-clad Desert Vista students stormed the field as the game ended, swallowing up Bright.

Desert Vista Fans storm the field after defeating Mountain Pointe 28-27 on Friday night Arizona Republic

"It's wild," Bright said. "Honestly, it's the greatest experience in Arizona, really. It's the biggest game of the year."

The Ahwatukee Bowl, in its 22nd year, lived up to the hype as one of the state's best big-school rivalries. Desert Vista evened the all-time series 11 apiece.

Both teams were without their top rushers. Desert Vista junior Tyson Grubbs missed his second straight game with a foot injury sustained in the first half of a loss to Gilbert Highland. Mountain Pointe tailback Jakim McKinney was knocked out of the game after four carries.

But the understudies came through for both teams.

Sophomore Eli Sanders made up for a kickoff he accidentally downed at his 2-yard line with a 90-yard kickoff return for a Mountain Pointe touchdown that tied the score at 14 with two minutes left in the first half.

Fullback Armando Delgado, also a talented linebacker, set up Colby Humphrey's second touchdown run with a 38-yard burst on third down. That gave Desert Vista (6-1) a 21-14 lead with eight minutes left in the third quarter.

Wallerstedt, a senior, was sensational all game for the Pride (3-4). His second scoring run, from 5 yards out, tied the score at 21 later in the third quarter.

He hooked up with Jathan Washington for a 49-yard pass play that led to Sanders' 3-yard TD run and a 27-21 Pride lead. Abercrombie's missed kick gave Desert Vista a chance to take the lead.

Matt Lewis' point-after the amazing Navarro-to-Shepardson play ended up being the difference.

Mountain Pointe had its chances. It had a series of mishaps in the second quarter, but still could have taken the lead. But, instead of settling for a short field goal, Mountain  Pointe went for a touchdown after getting down to the Desert Vista 10.


On the last play of the half, pass to Nate Gomez in the flat was stuffed by safety Garrett Carlock for no gain as time ran out.

"I thought we had the right play called," Wellbrock said. "It is what it is."

Desert Vista coach Dan Hinds was amazed by his players' clutch efforts.

"I knew it would be a close game but I don't think it could be any closer," he said.


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