Basic High football coach Jeff Cahill expected his players to produce a win on Friday. He just didn’t expect them to win so easily.
The Wolves struck early and often on offense, but it was their strong second-half defense that finished off a 42-21 road victory over Canyon Springs in a Sunrise Region quarterfinal game.
“We knew Canyon Springs had a good football team,” said Cahill, whose squad (6-4) will play at Foothill in the semifinals on Thursday. “But we also knew what our team could do. We knew we could play with anybody.”
The Pioneers (7-3) kept it close with the help of two quick strikes in the first half, but the Wolves’ defense dominated the final two quarters.
“We knew it was win or go home,” Basic defensive tackle Perry Williams said. “We had a couple of goal-line stops, and that really kept us going.”
Basic’s first score came after the defense stopped the Pioneers on a fourth-down play at the Wolves’ 8-yard line.
Basic capitalized, as Chris Bibbs’ 35-yard run helped fuel a 92-yard drive that resulted in a 1-yard touchdown plunge by Lorenzo Sampson.
After recovering the ensuing onside kick, the Wolves capped their next drive with a 2-yard touchdown dive by Sampson to go ahead 14-0.
But Canyon Springs’ Diamante Luna immediately answered by returning the kickoff 75 yards for a touchdown to get his team within 14-7 late in the first quarter.
Darien Spencer’s leaping 18-yard reception from Eddie Vega helped Basic extend its lead to 22-7, but the Pioneers needed just three plays to cut the deficit to 22-15 on a 50-yard TD sprint by Donnel Pumphrey.
Pumphrey, who finished with 178 yards on 27 carries, made it interesting with a 48-yard scoring run early in the second half that cut the Wolves’ lead to 22-21, but that was all the Basic defense allowed.
The Pioneers failed to find the end zone the rest of the way, while Basic padded its lead by scoring on a 4-yard run by Mike Roberts, a 48-yard pass from Vega to Devonte Boyd and a 25-yard circus catch by Spencer from Vega.
Kevin Hargro intercepted a Kevion Glenn pass late in the fourth to seal the Wolves’ win.
■ Foothill 34, Desert Pines 12 — At Foothill, Drew Doxtator threw four touchdown passes to power the Falcons to a 27-0 lead and a Sunrise Region quarterfinal victory over the Jaguars.
Foothill (8-2) will host region rival Basic in a semifinal game on Thursday.
Doxtator, who connected on 12 of 26 passes for 160 yards, had scoring tosses of 2 and 20 yards to Kyle Keplinger in the third quarter to put the Falcons up 27-0. Keplinger finished with a game-high seven receptions for 63 yards.
Desert Pines (4-6) closed to within two scores in the fourth quarter. Eric Wilkes broke off a 74-yard touchdown run, and Travis Nofoa scored on a quarterback sneak from 3 yards out that trimmed the lead to 27-12 with 9:03 left.
But after Tate Warr recovered a muffed punt for the Falcons, Brandon Wiltz scored two plays later on a 15-yard run to seal the win for Foothill.
— Tim Guesman
■ Liberty 42, Valley 7 — At Liberty, Niko Kapeli rushed for 237 yards and scored four touchdowns as the Patriots opened the Sunrise Region playoffs with a quarterfinal victory over the Vikings.
From the first drive, it was all Liberty as the Patriots (9-1) marched 78 yards in 14 plays with Kapeli going in from 7 yards out for a 7-0 lead.
After a Valley turnover, Liberty scored again as quarterback Kai Nacua hit Jared Tuilagi on a 50-yard pass play.
Kapeli added touchdown runs of 6 and 65 yards in the second quarter, and the No. 1 seed from the Southeast League led 28-0 at halftime.
The Patriots held a 359-52 edge in yards of offense over the Vikings (4-6) in the first half.
Kapeli, who ran for 182 yards in the opening half, added a 1-yard score on the first possession of the second half. Liberty’s final TD came from freshman Lucas Bogues on a 5-yard TD run in the fourth period.
Valley’s score came on a 13-yard pass from Anthony Sanders to Kennedy Williams.
— Sam Leeper
■ Bishop Gorman 49, Cheyenne 6 — At Gorman, the two-time defending state champion Gaels passed their first postseason test easily in a lopsided victory over the Desert Shields.
Gorman (12-1) was led by Jarrett Solomon, who tossed three touchdown passes and ran for a fourth score, and Shaquille Powell, who rushed for 142 yards and two TDs and caught two passes for 57 yards and a third score.
Powell opened the scoring with a 3-yard run late in the first quarter, and the game remained close until the Gaels rattled off four consecutive touchdowns in the final eight minutes of the first half to overwhelm the Desert Shields (6-4).
Justin Sweet scored on a short run to cap a 7-play, 65-yard drive that extended the Gorman lead to 14-0 with 7:56 remaining in the second quarter.
Solomon burst through the line and outran the defense for a 58-yard score with 2:57 left in the first half, and, on the first play of their following drive, he found a wide-open Robert Stanley over the middle for a 73-yard score.
The Gaels forced a quick punt, and two plays later Solomon connected with Powell on a 39-yard touchdown pass with 20 seconds left in the half.
In the third quarter, Powell added a 65-yard touchdown run, and Solomon found Jamir Tillman on a 7-yard touchdown strike to put the game far out of reach.
— Adam Berchin
■ Arbor View 57, Bonanza 7 — At Arbor View, Donnie Gaskin scored three second-quarter touchdowns as the Aggies rolled to a win in a Sunset Region quarterfinal and earned a rematch with Bishop Gorman.
Gaskin scored on runs of 12, 66 and 80 yards in the second quarter to help stake Arbor View to a 44-0 halftime lead. He finished with 189 yards rushing.
The Aggies (9-2) capitalized on Bonanza fumbles on the first two possessions, each time using a Henry Hoffend run to convert the turnover into points. Hoffend also had a 40-yard pass to Roderick Eason for a touchdown.
The Bengals (7-3) had averaged 35 points in the regular season but were held to two first downs in the first half.
Bonanza quarterback Brett Doyle threw for 145 yards and one touchdown, a 66-yard connection to Colton Bennion in the fourth quarter.
The Aggies travel to Gorman in a region semifinal game on Thursday. The Gaels beat Arbor View two weeks ago, 56-7.
— Neil Grepke
■ Palo Verde 40, Durango 7 — At Palo Verde, the Panthers scored touchdowns on their first four possessions and cruised past the Trailblazers in a Sunset Region quarterfinal game.
Palo Verde (10-0) will host Centennial in a semifinal contest on Thursday.
Senior running back Eric South, who led the Panthers with 73 yards on 12 carries, scored on runs of 17 and 1 yard in the first quarter.
Palo Verde quarterback Parker Rost threw for 112 yards and two TDs — a 13-yard toss to Lee Griggs and a 57-yard pass to Ryan Beaulieu, who also intercepted a pass.
Jacob Witham added a 32-yard touchdown run, and Jonathan Maxwell finished the scoring for Palo Verde with a 30-yard run.
Griggs added 69 yards on 12 rushes for the Panthers, and Jerrol Garcia-Williams had an interception and six tackles.
Durango’s Arie McQuaig scored on a 39-yard fumble return and also rushed for 51 yards to lead the Trailblazers (5-5). Mike Figueroa had an interception to pace the defense.
— Brennan Karle
■ Spring Mountain 68, Round Mountain 20 — At Spring Mountain, Meiyako Williams rushed for 159 yards and five touchdowns on 14 carries and passed for 102 yards and three touchdowns as the Eagles (8-1) routed the Knights (6-4) in a Class 1A state quarterfinal.
Williams wasn’t fazed by a steady snowfall in the first half, scoring on runs of 44, 11, 44, 6 and 16 yards to help Spring Mountain build a 60-14 halftime lead in the program’s first home playoff game.
The junior finished 8-for-14 passing, hooking up with Christopher Munro on TDs of 6 and 9 yards and Leroy Freeman on a 14-yard scoring strike.
Serjio Chavez led the Knights with 58 yards on 17 carries, 63 yards passing and two catches for 65 yards and a score.
Spring Mountain will visit Carlin in a state semifinal at 1 p.m. next Saturday.
— Tristan AirdIn-depth high school sports coverage