There was no doubt that Mountain View’s sideline had a sinking feeling Friday night when Salpointe Catholic’s Cameron Denson ran in an 82-yard touchdown just 18 seconds into the game.
The play, a well-timed handoff and return between Denson and running back Johnny Pena, would be utilized numerous times throughout the game, repeatedly confusing the Mountain Lions’ defense.
“They did some things that flustered us a little bit this game,” said Mountain View Head Coach Clarence McRae.
Denson was behind much of the Mountain Lions’ frustration.
The 6 foot 1 junior, who is filling in at quarterback for the injured Andrew Cota, managed to rush for three touchdowns and throw for another. He collected 239 yards on 16 carries, and completed five of six pass attempts for another 129 yards of offense.
“It was really our game plan to just come out and be more aggressive and physical,” said Denson.
The Mountain Lions kept it close in the first quarter, when Cody Rochon knocked in a 33-yard field goal to bring the score to 7-3.
But it was the Lancers who would close out the quarter.
With 13 seconds remaining, Denson flicked the ball to wide receiver Brogan Kemmerly on a reverse play, and Kemmerly found space along the sideline to rush in the 37-yard touchdown.
The Lancers continued to run the ball well in the second quarter. On a handoff from Denson, Pena pushed through the gaps in the Mountain View defense for a 48-yard gain, bringing the ball to the Mountain Lions’ nine-yard line.
Pena picked up a few more on first and goal, and Denson finished the job with a six-yard rushing touchdown to increase the Lancer lead to 20-3.
Mountain View was repeatedly forced to punt as its offense struggled to find any rhythm, despite running back Richie Estrada rushing for 114 yards on 21 carries.
The Salpointe lead increased when Pena broke free for a 37-yard touchdown run with under a minute remaining in the half.
The third quarter was just as unfriendly to the Mountain Lions, plagued with incomplete pass attempts and forced punts, and Salpointe took advantage early when Denson found Jared Sires for a 48-yard touchdown, despite nearly being sacked.
“Coach is always telling us to avoid the sack,” said Denson. “I just threw the ball into the area, and he happened to catch it.”
Trailing 33-3, Mountain View never quit fighting, and a mistake by Salpointe in the fourth quarter would leave the Mountain Lions with strong field position.
On fourth and 15, the Lancers’ fake punt turned into an incomplete pass, giving Mountain View the ball on the Salpointe 25-yard line. Richie Estrada closed that distance in just two runs, gaining five on first down, and another 20 on second to give the Mountain Lions their first and only touchdown of the game. Rochon’s point after was good, cutting the Salpointe lead to 33-10 with about nine minutes remaining.
Denson responded three minutes later with a 25-yard rushing touchdown, finalizing the score at 40-10.
“This is just another step toward our goal of a state championship,” said Denson.
McRae said the team will look to put the loss behind them as they prepare for another tough challenge on Friday.
“They deserved to win this game,” said McRae. “We went into it prepared, but we left a lot of opportunities on the field. We’re going to work hard to get back on track next week at Cienega.”
Mountain View will travel to face the 2-1 Cienega Bobcats on Friday.
Salpointe will travel to Marana (0-3) on Friday.