In the span of 7 minutes, 30 seconds, Boulder City’s football season went from near extinction to sudden rejuvenation.
The Eagles scored 22 unanswered fourth-quarter points to stun visiting Del Sol 28-20 in a Class 3A Southern Region first-round playoff game on Thursday night.
“It’s just a different mindset with these kids this season. They know their jobs and when they’re executing their jobs, they can do anything,” Boulder City head coach Chris Morelli said after the win. “I think it’s just the faith they have in each other.”
Down 20-6, Boulder City (7-3) scored on all three of its fourth-quarter possessions to extend its season. Senior running back Thorsten Balmer spearheaded the comeback with a 39-yard sprint up the middle, one play after the Eagles’ defense forced Del Sol to punt after its one and only three-and-out.
Sophomore Trey Davis then sprinted 65 yards on a catch-and-run slant route five minutes later to tie the score, before Balmer plunged in from 1-yard out with just less than two minutes remaining for the go-ahead touchdown.
Balmer finished with 187 yards rushing and three touchdowns on 27 carries.
“Balmer gets everything started,” said Morelli.
Beyond the late offensive heroics, it was Boulder City’s defense that helped turned the momentum in the fourth quarter. Following a pair of defensive breakdowns in the third quarter on third down, which both led to touchdowns, the Eagles’ defense tightened up in the final quarter.
“The biggest thing is getting the ball back in our offense’s hands without allowing a score,” Morelli said. “We’re going to give up a big play here or there but it’s the resiliency of the defense to step up and give our offense another chance to win the game. We went with small quick (isolations) on the outside to get pressure in the backfield.”
Del Sol opened the scoring with an 8-yard touchdown pass from Andre Nevarez to Markell Turner, capping a 10-play, 48-yard drive. Boulder City tied the score with 4:20 remaining in the first half on an 8-yard Balmer run. Three times the Dragons had extended drives in the opening half that stalled in Eagles’ territory, one with a fumble inside the 10 on the opening possession and two more with negative plays from scrimmage.
Nevarez tossed a pair of touchdown passes in the third quarter, both on third-and-long, and looked to have Del Sol in the driver’s seat after finding Turner for an acrobatic catch in the end zone with 37 seconds left in the quarter. Nevarez finished 24 of 41 passing for 285 yards.