Early in the second period Thursday night, Red Mountain's football team appeared on the verge of ending its offensive funk and grabbing its first win of 2013. A 14-7 lead seconds into that quarter was promising. Westview had other ideas.
There were no points to be scored essentially the final three periods for Red Mountain, who watched Westview take over in the second half and deliver a 21-14 road win in a Division I game at Red Mountain.
Westview running back Desmond Washington came up with a pair of key plays in a four-minute span of the fourth quarter to help the Knights advance to 3-0 and beat Red Mountain for the first time in six tries. Washington recovered a Red Mountain fumble at the Red Mountain 29 with 8:35 left to play. Six plays later Washington swept left end -- the Knights' go-to play of the second half -- and scored from 7 yards out to break a 14-14 tie with 4:52 remaining.
"I'm proud of our kids for getting it done," Westview coach Jeff Bowen said. "... We didn't have the ball much in the first half, but settled down in the second half. We had four backups in on defense and they stepped up. Maybe they should be starting. Desmond plays on both sides of the ball. He made some plays."
Red Mountain (0-3) dropped its fourth straight game dating back to last year's postseason. The Mountain Lions started fast, marching 74 yards in 13 plays and tallied on Adarian Limbs 1-yard run. Carter Tani's extra point made it 7-0 with 5:44 left in the first period.
The momentum of that initial foray was dulled 18 seconds later when Westview's standout running back Jalen Johnson broke off a 70-yard TD run on the Knights' first play from scrimmage. Johnson broke a tackle after about a five-yard gain up the middle, then turned to the outside and eluded one more defender before outracing everyone to the end zone. That play evened things at 7.
Red Mountain overcame the first of two turnovers on its next possession inside its own 30, forcing Westview to punt after the Knights took possession at the Red Mountain 26. When Red Mountain got the ball back it was another long drive -- 75 yards in 9 plays -- capped by a perfect throw and catch for 36 yards on a fourth-down post pattern from quarterback Brennan Dobson to wide out Sam Fink with 11:46 left in the second quarter. Dobson completed 22 of 33 passes for 247 yards.
After its second TD, Red Mountain totaled 142 yards of offense. The Mountain Lions gained 143 yards over the final three quarters and finished with only 38 yards rushing. Red Mountain advanced to Westview's end of the field once the rest of the game -- to the Knights' 44 early in the third period.
Westview tied the game with 2:09 left in the third quarter with Johnson, who finished with 112 yards on 12 carries, scoring his second TD on 7-yard run. Westview drove 79 yards in 10 plays with sweep plays doing much of the damage either by Johnson of Washington. Washington carried five times, all in the second half, for 46 yards.
"Teams know we have been pounding the ball inside the tackles, so we tried going outside some," Bowen said. "..(Red Mountain coach) Ron (Wisniewski) does a great job with them. They are not an 0-3 team. They have good talent."
Red Mountain's three losses have come against Pinnacle, Westlake High (Westlake Village, Calif.) and now Westview. The sum of the trio of losses is 14 points. Red Mountain is averaging 15 points a game.
Wisniewski says a lack of speed is allowing opponents to load up the box against the run. They've been forced often to go with a short, quick passing game, but that part of the offense hasn't hit its stride either.
"We wanted to keep it away from them and had that going that way the first half," Wisniewski said. "They made a couple big plays on offense. We moved the ball well early. But we're not moving it with enough consistency. We've done that in three different games We've got to get better."