Gophers bury Sand Devils 54-20

Photo by Roxanne Wilmes/Special to the Chronicle

By Mike Caywood
Lake Powell Chronicle

FLAGSTAFF – The second game of the season featured the young Page Sand Devils vs the experienced, high-octane offense of the Florence Gophers.  

Florence, which entered the game with 34 returning players, including 13 seniors, scored on their opening play of the game as Joshua Maignan ran 45 yards to put the Gophers up 6-0. It was the first of four touchdowns for the Florence running back.

The Sand Devils answered right back, exciting the crowd who made the two-hour drive from Page to Flagstaff, on a 65-yard highlight reel run by Robert Smith. From that point though, Florence put it in high gear and took a 33-12 lead at halftime.

The only scoring in the second quarter for the Sand Devils was a 1-yard touchdown run by Marcus Colson.

The second half featured much of the same as the Gophers scored on a 65-yard punt return by Maignan and two other long scoring passes from quarterback Chris Walters to Tommy Carberry. The Sand Devils scored another late touchdown just like last week as senior Nik Yazzie scored on a 1 yard run up the middle and with the two-point conversion being successful, finishing up the scoring for the game. That is where the scored remained as Florence avenged last years loss to the Sand Devils by the score of 54-20.

“They were a tough team that was experienced and motivated from last year’s loss,” said Leland Billie, the Sand Devils head football coach. “They did a good job dominating the line of scrimmage and their defensive line did a good job controlling our running game. As for us, we had to pass a lot and when Smith went out, Gabe Gomez came in and did a good job given the circumstances.”

Billie continued, “We did have some kids get banged up early and that might have hurt us a little as the game wore on. I am proud of my team as they never gave up and this week in practice we are going to work on the basics.”

Billie also mentioned that his young team needs to limit the amount of big plays they give up in a game and that starts with better tackling. Practice will help correct this, he pointed out. But Billie was happy the Sand Devils only had two turnovers in the game. This is just one of the many improvements that we will continue to make as the season progresses.  
“I am confident that the light bulb is eventually going to light up and when that does, we are going to be awfully tough to contain,” Billie added.

The next game for the Sand Devils will be Friday night, Sept. 6, against the Winslow Bulldogs in Winslow, Arizona. Game time is 7 p.m.