The Durango High School football team scored early and often Saturday against Evergreen in the first round of the Class 3A state championship playoffs.
Durango led the Cougars 42-3 at halftime, scored on its first possession after the break to enact the running clock mercy rule and then chewed up most of the fourth quarter with a 13-play scoring drive.
The Demons ended up winning the playoff game 56-3 on their home field to advance to the quarterfinals.
“We did what we have been doing at home,” said DHS head coach Todd Casebier. “In the playoffs, you don’t see that. In 25 years, I’ve never seen a running clock in the playoffs. Give the guys the credit. They did what they had to at home.”
On Evergreen’s first possession, AJ Folk made a tackle for a loss and on third down Walter Stauffer sacked Evergreen’s quarterback to force EHS to punt.
DHS quarterback Tyler Harms rumbled 25 yards on the team’s first play. Six plays later, Zach Haber rushed to the outside, got a block down the field from Tagert Bardin and ran into the end zone at the 7:52 mark. Sam Carozza’s kick put DHS up 7-0 and he finished the day 8-for-8 on extra points.
Evergreen completed a 10-yard pass for a first down on the ensuing drive, but fumbled on the next play and Stauffer recovered it for DHS at Evergreen’s 36.
Two plays later, Jordan Stanley ran up the middle and raced 32 yards for another touchdown.
Penalties hurt Durango on its next two drives. A holding penalty negated a 33-yard Haber run on one drive and another hold negated a Haber 17-yard run on the next drive, replacing first downs deep in Evergreen territory with second-and-longs.
“We have some things we have to clean up,” Casebier said. “There were too many flags on the ground.”
The Cougars then found some success with screen passes and put together a 20-play scoring drive. Tommy Poholsky completed eight passes on the drive and Evergreen had a first-and-goal at Durango’s 4-yard line. Cole Matava and Stanley made a tackle for a loss, Chase Roberston broke up a pass and then Stauffer helped make another stop for a 3-yard loss, forcing Evergreen to settle for a 27-yard field goal. The kick cut Durango’s lead to 14-3 with 8:07 remaining in the second quarter.
The field goal, however, lit a spark under Durango and the Demons scored three touchdowns in the next three minutes.
Haber broke free for a 64-yard touchdown.
Durango then forced a fumble and Matava picked it up and returned it to Evergreen’s 13. Stanley picked up 12 yards on the next play and then Jeric Baruch scored on a 1-yard run.
Evergreen went 3-and-out on its next drive, with Luke Wesley breaking up a pass on third down.
Haber then rushed for 29 yards to get into Evergreen’s red zone and scored two plays later on a 14-yard run, giving Durango a 35-3 lead with 5:03 left in the half.
A pass interference call gave Evergreen a first down at Durango’s 44-yard line. On the next play, William Knight hit Poholsky just as he was throwing the ball. Roberston intercepted the pass and returned it roughly 60 yards for another Demon touchdown.
“I thought our defense was outstanding against a very good offense,” Casebier said.
DHS had a couple more big plays wiped out by penalties late in the half, including a 49-yard Harms-to-Stanley pass and a 23-yard Wesley reception.
Leading 42-3 to start the second half, DHS enacted the running clock when Haber scored on a 30-yard run at the 10:20 mark in the third quarter.
The Cougars put together a 14-play drive after that, successfully going for it twice on fourth downs, but the drive ended with an incomplete pass at Durango’s 44. Junior Garcia-Rodriguez also sacked Poholsky and Matava made a tackle for a loss on the drive.
With Brady Hansen and Grady Hill taking over Durango’s running attack, Durango put together a 13-play scoring drive that ate the last 55 seconds of the third quarter and the first 10 minutes of the fourth quarter. Hansen eventually scored on a 17-yard run for the final tally.
The team also honored its seniors at the game since Mitchell forfeited when the team’s senior night was originally scheduled.
“It was great to honor our seniors and their parents today,” Casebier said. “All of the seniors got in the game, which is just what you want.”
Durango, the 3A tournament’s No. 4 seed, will now host No. 5 Mead in the quarterfinals next week. Mead won its first-round game, 21-20 over No. 12 Northridge.
“It’s all about the next one now,” Casebier said. “We have a very good team coming in here so we’ll have to have a great week.”
In other first-round games, No. 1 Roosevelt beat No. 16 Thomas Jefferson 56-15. No. 8 Holy Family won 34-18 over... Click here to read full article