The cliché was playing out true to form at Thunder Stadium on Friday night as the 17th edition of the Ahwatukee Bowl reached its halfway point.
The old "records are thrown out the window in a rivalry" phrase was probably uttered by many of the 10,000 or so fans in attendance.
Then reality set in.
Nationally-ranked Mountain Pointe scored the final six touchdowns to break open a close game as the Pride went on to a 49-6 win over Desert Vista.
“We came out and pounded the ball in the second half, like we should have in the first, but dog gone penalties killed us,” Pride coach Norris Vaughan said. “They played some good defense and we weren’t ourselves, but it ended up about what we expected.”
The Thunder (3-3) had to be at its best to win this game and that would require having their No. 1 quarterback and emotional leader play a big role.
They had neither.
Desert Vista was without junior quarterback Cade van Raaphorst (knee), as he was lost for the season in practice on Monday while making a cut without being hit and senior captain cornerback/wide receiver Will Barfield (thumb) is out after getting his hand smashed between two helmets.
Yet, it was just 7-6 Mountain Pointe – in large part because of the Pride’s seven penalties for 62 yards – late in the second quarter before Mountain Pointe went 80 yards in 10 plays for a score when Timmy Hernandez adjusted his route to catch a pass on an out route and then dove for the pylon with 9.9 seconds left.
It could have been the momentum spike the Pride (7-0) needed to dispatch of a lesser opponent, but the Thunder forced a three-and-out to start the third quarter and were driving with a chance to tie it before the Pride’s Markell Simmons started an avalanche of turnovers with an interception.
“We came out and got the stop on defense,” Desert Vista coach Dan Hinds said. “That interception hurt. If we finish that drive we have a shot.”
The Thunder alternated between senior Brendon Smith and sophomore Nick Farina at quarterback in place of van Raaphorst.
It didn’t matter who was in there after the Pride learned Wednesday of the quarterback change. Mountain Pointe stacked the box and forced the Pride to throw. The Thunder had only about 56 yards rushing – 2 in the second half – on 25 attempts.
“We were going to make them throw it,” Pride linebacker Trey Lauer said. “We stopped the run and once they started going to the air we started making big plays.”
Starting with the Simmons interception the Pride forced four straight turnovers that led to touchdowns, including pick sixes by Dominique Fenstermacher and Jalen Brown, to finish with 42 straight points.
“The score doesn’t show what we were able to do early in the game,” Thunder senior Anthony Reaves said. “It got away from us. It’s so hard to finish my career having never (freshman, JV and varsity) won this game in my time at this school.”
The Pride got away with a terrible start before Paul Lucas (15 for 110), Brandyn Leonard (14 for 119) and the offensive line seized control of the line of scrimmage and the defense got all of the takeaways (5 total) for the right to say: ‘We run Tukee.’
“As a senior it means everything to get this win on their field,” Lauer said. “We have bigger goals, but this is one is pretty special.”