Mountain View defeated No. 16 Cienega 38-37 in overtime on Friday night, winning the game on a successful two-point conversion attempt and potentially damaging the Bobcats’ playoff hopes.
“We had about, I don’t know, five starters out through the middle of the game,” Mountain View head coach Matt Johnson said. “We lost our starting running back, our starting nose guard, so we knew we were just starting to run out of depth, so we knew we had to go for it. We had already said, we had already decided right when we went there that that’s what we were going to do.”
After Cienega (4-5, 3-1 5A Southern) erased a 16-point fourth-quarter deficit, junior quarterback Evan Weber connected with Cienega senior wide receiver Gavin Peterson for a touchdown, giving the Bobcats a 37-30 lead on the first possession in overtime.
Mountain View’s junior quarterback William Howell scored on a designed run play on the following overtime possession to bring the Mountain Lions within one point.
Johnson and the Mountain View coaching staff opted to go for the win instead of kicking the extra point to tie the game.
A bold decision that paid off.
Howell connected on a pass to junior wide receiver Justin Holguin who had slipped behind his defender in the corner of the end zone, to seal the win with a successful two-point conversion.
“I kind of wanted to act like I was blocking in the tone where he would fill up and try to fill for the run and as soon as I felt him go forward, I just broke it out and it just went on from there,” Holguin said.
“Coach on the sideline told us that we were going to run a roll-out pass because we had been running down their throats the whole night on the goal line, so we knew if we pulled it, they were going to bite on it, so they did,” Howell said. “The corner on 17 (Holguin) thought it was a run. I had him over the top. Great play.”
Cienega scored on the game’s first possession on a 1-yard rushing touchdown from senior running back Edgar Garcia.
Mountain View senior kicker Nikolas Kornacki kicked a 39-yard field goal on the following possession to bring the Mountain Lions within four points.
The Bobcats threatened to score when Mountain View junior linebacker Jayden Rivera intercepted a tipped ball in the end zone with 10:51 remaining in the second quarter.
The interception led to Howell connecting with senior wide receiver Josh Roman Jr. for a 44-yard touchdown reception on the ensuing drive to put the Mountain Lions up 9-7.
Mountain View failed on a fake extra-point attempt but recovered an onside kick on the following kickoff.
The two plays were a precursor to the dramatic ending on a night of aggressive play-calling from Johnson and the Mountain View coaching staff.
“We have nothing to lose. We’re just having fun,” he said. “We’ve got nothing to lose, so we don’t necessarily always follow what the odds say. We’ve got a really young team. We’re starting two freshmen and three sophomores on defense. We’re just out here having fun and playing ball.”
The Mountain Lions held a 9-7 lead over Cienega at halftime and pulled away in the third quarter, extending its lead to 23-7 on a 1-yard rushing touchdown from Howell midway through the quarter and a 24-yard touchdown reception from Howell to Roman Jr. heading into the fourth quarter.
Cienega scored on a 49-yard touchdown pass from Weber to Peterson. After Peterson caught a pass for the two-point conversion, the score was 23-15.
Sophomore running back Nicholas Horrocks extended Mountain View’s lead to 30-15 with 7:50 remaining when he broke free for a 38-yard rushing touchdown.
Then things got interesting.
Cienega senior wide receiver Keron Watson caught a 17-yard touchdown pass to close the gap to 30-22 with 4:40 on the clock.
Cienega recovered the onside kick that followed.
With 42 seconds left, on fourth-and-9 from the Mountain View 11-yard line, Weber ran diagonally across the field, extending the ball inside the pylon before he was tackled out of bounds.
After the touchdown, Watson dove to the end zone, catching the two-point conversion attempt and ultimately sending the game into overtime with the game knotted at 30.
The rest is history.
For Johnson, the decision to go for two in overtime instead of kicking an extra-point, was a no-brainer at the end of a season with nothing to lose.
“If we don’t catch the pass, we don’t win. We still believe that our future’s really bright here… Win or lose, we know that the future’s bright,” he said. “The great thing is, our kids are fun to work with every day. Win or lose, they come, and practice is fun, and that’s their culture.”
Mountain View (4-5, 3-1 5A Southern) plays at Desert View (5-3, 3-1) and Cienega plays Tucson (2-7, 0-4) at home Thursday in the regular-season finale for the teams. Kickoff for both games is 7 p.m.
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com writing intern Kevin Murphy was born and raised in Tucson, and has followed Arizona Wildcats athletics since childhood. Murphy is a journalist product manager with the Green Valley News & the Sahuarita Sun. He is currently attending the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at ASU where he is working towards a Bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication and Media Studies.