The Sand Devils football team is now 3-0 after last Friday night’s victory over the Winslow Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs found the endzone first on their third drive of the game. They started the drive on the 50 yard line after recovering a Sand Devils fumble. The Bulldogs were facing a third and 12 after a sack by Hayden Gracia pushed them back into their own territory. One of the Bulldog receivers got behind the Sand Devils secondary and their quarterback dropped a pass right into the breadbasket, and after that it was a race to the endzone.
The Sand Devils blocked the extra point to minimize the damage.
The Sand Devils offense had several great plays but couldn’t link enough of them together for a sustained drive throughout the first quarter and most of the second. As he has done all season head football coach Mitchell Stephens rotated Robert Smith and Gabe Gomez at quarterback.
The game’s momentum shifted back in favor of the Sand Devils after Cheyenne Richardson recovered a Winslow fumble. Despite starting their fifth drive in good field position the Sand Devils found themselves in second down and 19 yards to go after being called for an illegal block to the back.
Robert Smith, who was taking his turn at quarterback, busted free and ran it 50 yards for the Sand Devils’ first touchdown with 1:13 left in the second quarter. The Sand Devils went for two on the PAT and again Smith carried the ball, bouncing off three or four Bulldog tacklers before he found the endzone again.
The Sand Devils led 8-6 as the first half expired.
The Bulldogs won the toss at the beginning of the game and deferred to receive in the second half. The Sand Devils performed an onside kick – something coach Stephens did with great effectiveness last year – ad they recovered the ball on the 50 yard line.
Running back Kele Meredith and Gomez, who was in at quarterback, advanced the ball to the 25 yard line in three runs. Four plays later Gomez found wide receiver Justin Salabiye open in the endzone and completed a 14 yard pass for the Sand Devils second touchdown. They were unsuccessful on their extra point attempt.
The Sand Devils wasted little time scoring again, when Sand Devils cornerback Giovanni Coulson intercepted a Bulldogs pass and returned it more than 50 yards for the pick-six. Gracia added two more points on he PAT, giving the Sand Devils a 22-6 lead with 6:36 left in the third quarter.
Winslow’s next drive was killed after Sand Devils linebacker Kimball Begay tackled their runningback for a loss of four yards, followed by a sack from linebacker Brandon James.
Begay was key in ending the Bulldogs following drive as well, when he sacked their quarterback for a loss of 18 yards then, on the very next play, catching a blocked pass and returning it 35 yards.
The Bulldogs found the endzone one last time with 2:24 left in the game making the score 22-12, which would end up being the final score.
Coach Stephens was pleased his team added another win but would like to see his team improve as they move forward.
“We had a bunch of mistakes that could have cost us if they happened against a better team,” he said.
Coach Stephens expects his team to be challenged when they play Snowflake this Friday.
“They’ll be very tough. They’ll be physical and we’ve got to match that if we want to win.”
Page finished the game with 326 all-purpose yards. Gomez was two for seven passing for 13 yards. He also threw for a touchdown, had ten carries for 40 yards and contributed two points on a PAT.
Smith had five carries for 122 yards and a touchdown, all of which came in the first half. Meredith had 23 carries for 138 yards. Gracia had three carries for eight yards. He also had a touchdown and two points on a PAT.
Salabiye had two receptions for 13 yards and a touchdown.
The Sand Devils travel to Snowflake this Friday where they’ll face the 2-1 Lobos. Kick-off is at 7 p.m.
Their next home game is Sept. 14 which is also a fundraiser for Allie’s Angels to fight cancer.