Duluth's Henry Enyenihi (2) cuts through the Mountain View's defense at Mountain View High School Friday night.
LAWRENCEVILLE -- The calendar may have said early October with half a regular season remaining, but Duluth and Mountain View knew this Region 7-AAAAA game had postseason implications written all over it.
When all was said and done, Duluth had held on for a 28-20 win over Mountain View as the Wildcats picked up their first region win of the season to stay alive in the race for a playoff berth.
But it didn't come without some drama.
After Mountain View got a 1-yard run from quarterback Chris Bartlett to cut the Duluth lead to 28-20 with 3:14 left, the Bears executed the onside kick and set up shop at their own 46 with two timeouts remaining and a chance to tie.
But the Duluth defense stiffened and snuffed out Mountain View's fourth-and-two from the Wildcats' 46 as Marvin Elam was stopped a yard short of the first down.
"I thought that offensively we did some great things after we were able to use that bye week to get our quarterback (Will Delorenzo) some reps in practice," said Duluth head coach Corey Jarvis. "We made some bone-headed plays early in the game that gave (Mountain View) some opportunities and they took advantage of them. But we had a big play early on the fake punt that got us some momentum and then we had to keep fighting until the end."
With the win, Duluth moved to 1-2 in 7-AAAAA and 3-3 overall.
The first three drives of the game resulted in touchdowns as both teams moved the ball, but Duluth used a little razzle-dazzle to find the end zone first.
Duluth struck first as Myles Campbell scored from 63 yards out after the Wildcats stalled on their first drive, but ran a fake punt to perfection for the opening score of the game and a 7-0 lead.
But Mountain View answered back with a nine-play, 73-yard drive as Elam scored on a 5-yard run midway through the opening quarter to tie the game at 7-7.
Duluth came back and took the lead again, this time on a 5-yard run by Henry Enyenihi that capped off a 14-play, 76-yard drive that put the Wildcats out in front 14-7 -- a lead they took into the locker room at the half.
Duluth increased that lead to 21-7 four minutes into the second half as Enyenihi got loose on a 38-yard run as the Wildcats scored in three quick plays after Mountain View's opening drive of the half stalled.
However, Mountain View showed some resolve and rallied back with a TD of its own -- that coming on an Elam 3-yard run with 4:36 left in the third quarter.
But the extra point was blocked and Duluth clung to a 21-13 advantage heading into the final 12 minutes.
That's when Duluth went to work again on another solid drive, this time going 69 yards in six plays.
The Wildcats' big play came on a fourth-and-14 from the Mountain View 33 when Delorenzo found Michael Randle down the left sideline for a 28-yard gain.
Campbell scored his second TD of the night, this one coming from four yards out for a 28-13 Duluth lead with 7:00 remaining in the game.
It was a solid effort by Mountain View (2-4, 1-2), but little consolation for the third-year program after the defeat.
"I told our team that I want them to be disappointed, but I don't want them to be discouraged," said Bears head coach Tim Hardy. "There's a difference in that and I don't want us being satisfied with being competitive. I am proud of the effort tonight and we did some good things. But when all is said and done, we lost and we don't take away any satisfaction in that."
Enyenihi led the Duluth offense with 132 yards on 14 carries while Elam led Mountain View's attack with 114 yards on 28 attempts.