With 11:10 left in the first half, a long Wildcat touchdown run left the Pointers looking at a 23-6 deficit, one that would cause many teams to throw in the towel. But the Pointers answered with a drive of their own, Kaden Gill covering the final two yards to reduce the gap to 23-13 with 7:38 left in the second quarter.
Each team scored again, a short run by Pointer quarterback Jason Peres with 49 seconds before intermission leaving his team trailing by 10 at 30-20 as the Wildcats had been taking advantage of the Dogs' defensive backfield difficulties and inability to contain runs to the outside.
"We told the players if we could eliminate the big plays and get at least two turnovers we could get the lead on them," head coach Mike Hastings said he told his players at the break. "We (the coaches) believe in you, let's go out and play EMAP football."
The second half was a different story.
The Pointer defense dug its heels in and shut out the Wildcats for nearly the entire second half while scoring twice themselves to take a 33-30 lead with 9:01 left in the game while those in the packed Pointer stands shouted their support.
The first of those took place when Gill blasted over the left side from short distance for his second score of the game. Another score appeared imminent before the Dogs lost a fumble at the Wildcats' one-yard line early in the final quarter.
On their next possession, it was Peres sneaking in from the one-yard line as the rejuvenated Pointers took their first lead of the game, 33-30, with 9:01 to play.
But the Wildcats stirred before Tristan Shafer intercepted his first pass of the season (he had seven last year) and returned the ball to the El Camino 20, giving the Pointers a golden opportunity to increase their lead with 7:18 left.
"Had we been able to put a drive together there, that might have sealed the game and put it away," Hastings said.
The Pointers lost the ball on downs, however, and the Wildcats' offense, using screen passes, moved down the field to score. The drive was aided by a questionable pass interference call on the Pointers in the end zone helping them re-take the lead at 37-33.
As the scoreboard clock wound down, possession changed three times.
The Pointers lost the ball when a fourth and 11 play saw Peres sacked (1:31 left). The Pointers recovered when the Wildcat quarterback fumbled following a long gain after being hit by Gill with Shafer recovering (1:07 left), and a Pointer ball carrier stripped of the ball (53.6 seconds left) to seal the Wildcat win.
"It was a real testament to our kids determination to battle hard and not give up," Hastings said. "I was really proud of them showing their resolve to fight until the end."
Landon Green had two pass interceptions, both of which led to Pointer touchdowns, while Joaquin Quintanilla scored the Pointers' first touchdown on a pass from Peres.
"We have the ability, but unfortunately we didn't execute early enough and if we eliminate those big plays I think we'll be alright," Hastings said.
The Pointers will be in heat, literally, when they travel to Ramona for their Aug. 30 game. In past years, games there have been delayed while the temperature hovers above 100 degrees. The Pointers topped the Bulldogs 41-27 last year at home. This year Ramona is off to an 0-1 start, losing at home to common opponent Olympian 35-14.
On Sept. 6 the Pointers travel to the South Bay to take on Otay Ranch with a 7 p.m. kickoff.
• Senior running back/defensive back Josh Abbott left the game with what is believed to be a torn ACL, which would end his season.
• The Pointer freshman team tied the Wildcats 7-7 to begin 0-0-1, while the JV beat El Camino 21-12 to go 1-0.