Monday, November 29, 2021
Nov. 29, 2021

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Thunder make most of big plays to beat Prairie

Mountain View clinches share of 3A GSHL title with win

By , Columbian staff writer

BATTLE GROUND — Sometimes, wins are ugly. And sometimes, it feels like an escape just to get the victory.

That’s what it was for the Mountain View Thunder in their 17-14 football victory on the road Friday.

There’s little doubt recent prior matchups between Mountain View and Prairie are all about big plays, clutch moments and one-possession outcomes. In fact, all three meetings since 2019 have been like that.

Friday’s contest came down to big plays in big moments, too … just not as many points on the scoreboard. The win did, however, clinch the Thunder (6-2 overall, 3-0 league) at least a share of the 3A Greater St. Helens League title and a No. 1 playoff seed based off current head-to-head league games.

And how they did it Friday was anything but easy.

Like when Mountain View led 17-8 in the closing minutes before Prairie marched 74 yards on six plays. When Thor Stepina’s quarterback keeper went for a 13-yard score, it made it a one-score game at 17-14 seconds to go. The ensuing onside kick failed to go the required 10 yards, and quarterback Mitch Johnson took a knee to run the clock out.

22 Photos
Prairie junior Nathan Phingphouvagh, right, makes a leaping catch under pressure from Mountain View sophomore Jacob Martin on Friday, Oct. 15, 2021, during the Falcons’  17-14 loss to Mountain View at Battle Ground High School.
Mountain View vs. Prairie football, Oct. 15 Photo Gallery

Johnson, who accounted for both of Mountain View’s touchdowns Friday, said postgame he knows he and his teammates didn’t play up to their standards, but still made plays when it counted. Like taking advantage of short-field opportunities in the second half to take the lead for good. All 10 second-half Thunder points came in the third — a 13-yard touchdown run by Johnson and a 32-yard Eli Warne field goal all came when drives started inside the 20- and 16-yard lines, respectively. Warne’s field goal came after a fumble recovery by Mountain View, which opened the second half on a 14-play drive, yet yielded zero points.

“A big theme so far this season is finish — finish and fight,” the junior said. “We started off sloppy on offense — really sloppy. … Shoutout to the defense; they did a hell of a job. I think this week’s practice was the best practice we’ve had all year and it showed.”

That defense shined brightest the final 24 minutes — this after Prairie led 8-7 at halftime when the teams traded punts, turnovers on downs, and for the Thunder, two lost fumbles. One of them led to a Prairie touchdown two plays later.

When Mountain View lost its second fumble of the first half deep in its own territory, that’s when Prairie capitalized with the game’s first points. Alex Ford’s 2-yard touchdown run two plays later put Prairie up 8-0 with 4:11 left in the half. Before that, both teams had a punt and turnover on downs.

On the ensuing possession, Mountain View responded after Akili Kamau’s kickoff return put the Thunder at the Prairie 19. Six plays later, Johnson found Kyle Chen for a 9-yard touchdown reception.

Johnson said the lockerroom at halftime was very colorful and animated by head coach Adam Mathieson — but all for the better, the junior said.

“It definitely was not an atmosphere I’ve seen from (Mathieson) before, but that brought us together,” Johnson said. “That intensity shows he really loves us and we know when coach gets on us, we know that’s because he loves us and wants us to be great.”


Mtn.View 0 7 10 0—17

Prarie 0 8 0 6—14

Second quarter

P — Alex Ford 2 run (Thor Stepina run)

MV — Kyle Chen 9 pass from Mitch Johnson (Eli Warne kick)

Third quarter

MV —FG, Warne 32

MV — Johnson 13 run (Warne kick)

Fourth quarter

P — Stepina 13 run (run failed)


RUSHING — Prairie: Thor Stepina 18-115, Alex Ford 6-27, Ryder Troxel 3-19; Mountain View: Akili Kamau 11-55, Valika Tamakloe 5-17, Mitch Johnson 6-18, CJ Hamblin 3-8, Walker Richardson 3-17.

PASSING — Prairie: Stepina 10-18-0-103; Mountain View: Johnson 3-14-0-75

RECEIVING — Prairie: Grayson Weber 1-5, Alex Ford 2-9, Nathan Pingphouvagh 3-45, Ryder Troxel 1-(minus-3), Evan Davis 1-2, Josh Blick 1-14, Chase Phillips 1-35; Mountain View: Kyle Chen 2-29, Aiden Nicholson 1-16.