When Desert Pines and Arbor View get together, it makes for an entertaining night of football.
Thursday night’s Class 5A Southern Region quarterfinal game was no different, with the Aggies using a defensive stand to forge a 17-16 home victory.
“I would’ve expected nothing else,” Arbor View coach Matt Gerber said. “We knew it was going to be a physical game.”
It was the second one-point victory for the Aggies (8-2) over the Jaguars this season. They came back for a 22-21 win Sept. 17.
Arbor View travels to face Liberty in the regional semifinals next Friday. Liberty beat Arbor View 42-14 on Aug. 20 in the season opener for both teams.
When the Aggies needed a stop, their defense stepped up. With Desert Pines trailing 17-14 late in the game, the Jaguars faced a fourth-and-goal at the 3-yard line. Ferrari Busby took the handoff, then was stuffed short of the goal line by Arbor View lineman Zurich Ashford.
The celebration was short-lived, however, as Jaguars defensive back Jett Solomon sacked Arbor View quarterback Kyle Holmes for a safety, making it a one-point game. Desert Pines’ drive stalled when quarterback Eddie Sandoval — who came in after Michael Kearns left with an injury — was stopped on fourth down by Mario Rivas Jr. Shortly after, the Aggies went into victory formation.
“Our ‘D’ has been keeping us in the game, every game,” said Arbor View running back Richard Washington, who gained 122 yards on 17 carries.
Defense also played a key part for Desert Pines (5-4) to open the game. After a clutch stop on fourth-and-1 midway through the first quarter, Desert Pines struck first. Kearns drove the Jaguars down the field quickly, culminating in a 15-yard touchdown run with five minutes remaining in the first quarter.
Arbor View tied the game at 7-7 midway through the second quarter on a 1-yard touchdown run by Washington.
Following an interception by Solomon, Desert Pines looked ready to regain the lead. However, the next drive ended abruptly on a 99-yard interception return by Arbor View defensive back Aiden Powell. Kearns scrambled and found a receiver in the middle of the end zone, but Powell leaped, snagged the ball out of the air and returned it for a touchdown.
Jeau Vinatieri gave Arbor View a 17-7 lead late in the third quarter on a 24-yard field goal. Desert Pines responded a few minutes later on a quarterback sneak by Kearns, setting up a wild fourth quarter.
Kearns, who ran for 145 yards on 22 carries, is one of many talented players Desert Pines returns next season.
“This is a young team and we’re returning most of them (next year),” Jaguars head coach Tico Rodriguez said. “You’ve got to put the work in, and unfortunately, we just fell short.”