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Desert Pines defense locks down win at Eldorado

Desert Pines head coach Tico Rodriguez believes he has one of the best defenses in the state. He can use Thursday’s performance as evidence.

The Jaguars lived in Eldorado’s backfield, finishing with 10 sacks (nine in the first half) in a convincing 42-6 road win to cap the regular season.

“Our defense has been outstanding all year,” Rodriguez said. “They’re one of the top defenses in the state. I don’t think they get the credit they deserve, but our defense is consistently one of the top defenses.”

Desert Pines (7-2, 4-1 Northeast League) held Eldorado (1-8, 0-5) to 18 yards of offense and kept the Sundevils off the board until the final play of the night.

Backup quarterback Riess Petti hit senior starting quarterback Jalen Malone on a slant for a 9-yard touchdown as the clock expired and the home team celebrated as if it had won the game. It was a gratifying finish to Eldorado’s frustrating season.

“That kid (Malone) is a four-year guy. He’s been through the ringer with us year after year,” Eldorado coach Robert Cutts said. “But he’s one of my most loyal guys and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Both offenses struggled though the first 16 minutes before Desert Pines, holding a 7-0 lead, scored four times in a five-minute span to break it open.

Jamel Brown scored on consecutive drives, on rushes 15 yards and 65 yards, to make it 21-0. Brown finished with a game-high 100 yards rushing and two touchdowns on five touches.

Tommie Taylor’s only reception of the night, an 18-yard touchdown pass from Donzamon Lewis-Bealer, then made it 28-0.

The scoring frenzy concluded with a big-man touchdown, when sophomore defensive tackle Braezhon Ross scooped up a short worm-burning punt and rumbled 18 yards inside the far pylon.

“That’s always great,” Rodriguez said. “When we watch film, the guys are going to have a good time watching that and laughing. It’s always a good time when you see a big fella score.”

Lewis-Bealer completed 7 of 10 passes for 74 yards and two touchdowns.

Desert Pines now prepares for the playoffs, while Eldorado is left to reflect on a season, and a schedule its staff felt it shouldn’t have ever played.

“We kind of got the short end of the stick with the realignment, but my kids never let that keep them down,” Cutts said. “I’d like the (Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association) Board (of Control) to do us a little better next time, maybe even reclassify us mid-cycle here. Because if we’re in the (Class) 3A, we’re having a different conversation right now.”

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