Desert Vista was on its heels early Friday but didn’t panic.
Overcoming adversity isn’t anything new to the Thunder this year.
After No. 7 Mesa Mountain View’s Jacobby Dinwiddie ran the opening kickoff back 95 yards for a score, the No. 10 Thunder’s offense got to work, scoring on its first four possessions and capturing a 28-14 win in the first round of the 6A state playoffs at Mountain View.
Desert Vista began the season at just 2-4, but captured its fifth straight win Friday to advance to the quarterfinals, where the team will face No. 2 Chandler next week.
“It seems like a different season,” Desert Vista coach Dan Hinds said. “When these kids play you can see that they believe in themselves. When things go wrong and they run the opening kickoff back these kids are like, ‘No big deal, no problem.’ We came and bounced right back and scored a touchdown.”
Desert Vista led 20-14 at halftime and strung together a strong opening second-half drive capped by a three-yard touchdown pass from Nick Thomas to James Stagg to make it a two-possession game.
“We’re real excited when we get the ball at halftime because our kids, I can see it, they’re really hungry,” Hinds said. “We didn’t think it was going to work out that great — go 80 yards and knock nine minutes off the clock.”
Mountain View had its chances in the fourth quarter but the Desert Vista defense held strong. Two interceptions by junior cornerback Alijah Gammage thwarted the comeback.
“He’s a baller,” Hinds said. “That’s all I can say about that kid.”
Desert Vista was led offensively by running back Lelon Dillard. He had 23 carries for 79 yards and a touchdown and added nine receptions for 97 yards.
The Thunder’s game against Chandler next week is a rematch of last year’s quarterfinal matchup where the Wolves won 34-14.
“Chandler’s a great team. We’re going to have to play close to a perfect game to beat them but I know that we’re capable of that,” Thomas said. “So we’re just going to focus on that in practice and just eliminate mistakes.”