The battle between Arizona's top two teams turned out to be not much of a battle at all.
Mountain Pointe (Phoenix)
jumped out to an early lead and dominated Hamilton (Chandler)
on both sides of the ball to come away with a 37-27 victory that wasn't as close as the score might indicate.
Mountain Pointe came into the game ranked No. 16 nationally in the MaxPreps Xcellent 25, while Hamilton was ranked No. 14 to start the season, before injuries began to take their toll.
Top recruit Jalen Brown
was as good as advertised for the Pride, scoring two touchdowns on a pair of 37-yard passes from quarterback Antonio Hinojosa
Hamilton faced injury problems heading into the game and were without standout lineman Casey Tucker. As a result the Huskies struggled offensively all game, failing to score an offensive touchdown until the fourth quarter.
Hamilton received the ball to start the game and made good use of its first possession. The Huskies put together an 11-play drive that lasted nearly five minutes and ended with a 43-yard field goal by Dylan Brown.
Mountain Pointe struck back immediately, moving down field with relative ease to earn a first-and-goal. However the Hamilton defense buckled down and forced a Ryan Sheehan
field goal on fourth-and-4 to tie the game at 3-3 with 4:36 left in the first quarter.
After a defensive stop, Mountain Point scored the first touchdown on a 37-yard touchdown pass from Hinojosa to Brown, who made a spectacular leaping grab and managed to land in bounds to give the Pride a 10-3 lead to end the first quarter.
Hamilton drove to the Mountain Pointe 11 on the first drive of the second quarter, but the Pride defense held strong to force another Brown field goal to make it a 10-6 game with 9:35 left in the first half.
The Pride's Paul Lucas
made sure that score didn't remain long, as he ran back the ensuing kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown to put Mountain Pointe up by 11.
A fumbled snap gave Mountain Pointe the ball back at the Hamilton 17 and the Pride quickly capitalized, scoring on a three-yard run by Brandyn Leonard
to take a comfortable 24-6 lead with 3:21 left in the half.
With the ball and a chance to run out the clock before halftime, Mountain Pointe's plan to stay aggressive backfired when Hamilton's A.J. Greathouse
intercepted a pass and took it back 35 yards for a touchdown to cut the lead to 24-13 with just under a minute left.
The interception provided some momentum going into halftime for a Hamilton team that seemed lifeless just moments earlier.
The Hamilton defense kept the energy going out of the locker rooms, causing a Mountain Pointe three-and-out on the first possession of the second half.
The Mountain Pointe defense was up to the task, however, and pitched a shutout until the Pride offense kicked into gear, scoring on another 37-yard touchdown from Hinojosa to Brown to go up 31-13 with 2:16 left in the third quarter.
Hamilton fought back and scored its first offensive touchdown of the game on a one-yard pass from Sam Sasso
to Elijah Williams
, tacking on a 2-point conversion, to cut into the lead. But Mountain Pointe was just too much, scoring immediately on a 71-yard touchdown run by Lucas to extend the lead to 37-21 with 7:15 left.
Hamilton's Jaquan Mayberry
caught a six-yard pass from Sasso with 1:50 left but the Huskies failed on the 2-point conversion and it remained a 37-27 ball game.
Things got interesting when Hamilton recovered the ensuing onside kick, but the Huskies were unable to score and the game ended.
Coming into the game, Hinojosa had hit on two-thirds of his passes for an ample 820 yards with 10 touchdowns and only two interceptions. Brown
had only 17 catches for 387 yards and four touchdowns, so he was due for a breakout game.
Hamilton opened its doors in 1998, but has already won seven state championships in football. Until tonight, Mountain Pointe's 17-14 win over Hamilton in last year's season-opener was its only win in the series since the teams began playing in 2007.
Game story based on tweets from MaxPreps correspondent Jason P. Skoda. Follow him @JSkodaAFN.