As Canyon Springs celebrated senior night at its last scheduled home game on Thursday, the Pioneers knew they had the opportunity to make sure they got to play on their field one more time.
Running backs Malik Brown and Donnel Pumphrey helped ensure No. 10 Canyon Springs clinched the No. 2 seed in the Northeast League and the home playoff game that goes with it in a 38-14 romp over Desert Pines.
Brown finished with 214 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries. Pumphrey needed just six attempts to rack up 159 yards and two touchdowns.
“These are two really valuable guys to this program. That’s a luxury to have those guys,” Pioneers coach Hunkie Cooper said. “Pumphrey is an amazing kid to watch. He has those tools, but make no mistake about it, Malik Brown is just as good, and he’s fresh, and he’s running hard.”
The teams entered the game tied for second place in the league standings. With the victory, Canyon Springs (6-3, 6-1 Northeast League) will host Silverado in a first-round playoff game on Nov. 5. Desert Pines (5-4, 5-2) will travel to Foothill.
“My seniors understood that we were here to celebrate them but also to win and set ourselves up for a great playoff run. They understood that,” Cooper said. “It’s a great opportunity to come out and get fan support and get the community behind you, and hopefully we are able to build off this momentum.”
Brown, a senior, carried the ball four times for 50 yards on the opening drive, capped by his 7-yard touchdown run. Pumphrey broke off an 80-yard scoring run on Canyon Springs’ next drive, and the Pioneers never looked back.
“This (win) got us momentum and a home game next week,” Brown said. “It’s a lot of pride. We’ve been talking about it all week.”
Pumphrey’s second touchdown came on a 63-yard run early in the third quarter.
“They run a 4-3 defense. We knew with the linebackers coming up, we would have holes to break through,” Pumphrey said. “This win means a lot to us. We want that home crowd on our side.”
D’Vante Howard, who shared time at quarterback with Jamaal Martin, completed just four passes, but three went for touchdowns.
Howard found Isiah Charles for a 12-yard score late in the second quarter after Desert Pines had cut its deficit to 14-7 on a 30-yard interception return for a touchdown by Dominique Jacobs.
The senior quarterback then added touchdown throws of 11 and 45 yards to Michael Gayden and Chayson Lawson in the fourth quarter to help the Pioneers pull away.
Leon Hayes ran for 167 yards on 28 carries for the Jaguars. Desert Pines’ Darel Allen-Tucker caught five passes for 40 yards, including a 5-yard touchdown pass from Trey Robello in the third quarter.