Playing shorthanded, Mountain View needed most of the first half to get its offense in gear and find the up-tempo rhythm it has used to get in position for postseason play.
Once John Clark and company found the rhythm, the Toros held off upset-minded Mesa and set a few marks along the way.
Clark threw for an unofficial school-record 423 yards and five touchdowns and wideout Clark Brown caught 11 passes for 240 yards and became the first Toro to pass 1,000 yards receiving in Mountain View’s 42-24 win on Friday night.
“We were missing a lot of guys on offense, it’s been hard,” Brown said. “But we practiced hard together and in the second half we made our adjustments and turned it on from there.”
The Toros (6-2) had to make some adjustments against a powerful Jackrabbit running game led by Turrell Pietz-Noble, who carried for 152 yards and a pair of touchdowns. In fact, after Mesa recovered Mountain View’s onside kick to open the second half, the Jackrabbits went ahead. Pietz-Noble reeled off two big runs, one for 22 yards and then one for 19 that gave Mesa a 21-14 lead a little more than a minute into the half.
“I told the guys, 'Hey, it’s time to step up,'” Mountain View coach Chad DeGrenier said. “John Clark stepped up and made some throws, Clark Brown started to make some catches, (Conner) Ipsen made some catches and then it’s a domino effect.”
Then, Clark began to engineer the Mountain View no-huddle, quick-strike offense. An 80-yard drive ended with a 5-yard run by Brock Westover, the workhorse with running back Cayman Nielson out. Westover also caught seven passes as the Toros played without wideouts Chase Funk, Hansen Williams and Jason Hall.
“I’m just really proud of how they responded to all the adversity with 12, 13 guys out tonight,” DeGrenier said. “So proud of these guys.”
When Mountain View quickly got the ball back, Clark drove the Toros down the field again, sparked by a 53-yard pass to Brown that started as a simple sideline route but Brown broke tackles to give Mountain View the ball at the Mesa 22. Four plays later, Clark found Westover on a 9-yard score.
Mesa tried to rally, even using a halfback pass by Pietz-Noble, to get into Toros territory, but had to settle for a 44-yard Noe Pereles field goal.
Clark’s fourth touchdown pass, a relatively easy 16-yarder to Brown put Mountain View ahead comfortably.
But it was Clark’s second touchdown pass, his first to Brown on the night, which turned the tide. Trailing 14-7, Mountain View got the ball with 2:37 left before halftime and had a first down at its 44 when Brown got behind the defense about 20 yards out, Clark hit him in stride and Brown took it in for the tying score.
It was the fourth straight loss for the Jackrabbits after starting 3-1 and leaves almost no room for error the final two weeks – against Skyline and at Desert Mountain – if it wants to reach the postseason.
“We came out swinging and our offense is developing,” Mesa quarterback Chris Shelton said. “It’s kind of late but we are getting there.”
Mountain View 42, Mesa 24
First Downs: MV 20, Mesa 12
Rushing: MV 27-128, Mesa 30-265
Passing (comp.-att.-TD-INT): MV 29-42-423-4-0, Mesa 10-18-0-2
Fumbles-lost: MV 1-0, Mesa 2-1
Penalties-yards: MV 6-56, Mesa 6-50
Mtn. View 0 14 14 14 -- 42
Mesa 7 7 7 3 -- 24
M: Pietz-Noble 19 run (Pereles kick)
M: Shelton 1 run (Pereles kick)
MV: Westover 18 pass from Clark (Bustillos kick)
MV: Brown 56 pass from Clark (Bustillos kick)
M: Pietz-Noble 3 run (Pereles kick)
MV: Westover 5 run (Bustillos kick)
MV: Westover 9 pass from Clark (Bustillos kick)
M: Pereles 44 FG
MV: Brown 16 pass from Clark (Bustillos kick)
MV: Brown 10 pass from Clark (Bustillos kick)