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Desert Pines shuts out Sunrise Mountain to advance to 3A semis

Desert Pines football coach Tico Rodriguez instructed his players to turn in their alternate uniforms after their victory over Sunrise Mountain in the Class 3A state playoffs Thursday night.

Meaning they probably won’t wear them again in 2017.

But boy, did they play well in royal blue.

The defending state champion Jaguars were clinical in their dismantling of the upstart Miners, and dismissed them from the tournament with a 48-0 victory.

Desert Pines (8-2), which didn’t score a touchdown in its first two games of the regular season, is back in the state semifinals opposite Spring Creek (8-3). They’ll square off Nov. 18 at Desert Pines, presumably wearing home black, for a berth in the Class 3A state championship game.

Sunrise Mountain finishes the year 6-5.

“They’ve come a long way (since the beginning of the season),” Rodriguez said of the Jaguars. “I think we’re playing good football … All three facets played really hard.”

That they did.

Running back Michael Lofton ran for an 83-yard touchdown on Desert Pines’ first play from scrimmage. Defensive back Ta’vion Dirden-Allen recovered a botched punt attempt in the end zone and linebacker Dejon Pratt returned an interception 77 yards for a score to ignite the blowout midway through the second quarter.

Jaguars quarterback Tyler Williamson was 7 of 9 for 115 yards and a pair of touchdowns, and tailbacks Devin McGee and Jyden King added touchdown runs in the second half to satisfy their sideline.

“It’s hard for (a defense to stop us). We all got different running styles,” said King, who ran for 58 yards on nine carries. “We all got God-given talent … They don’t know who is getting it.”

Desert Pines’ front seven devoured Sunrise Mountain’s offensive line, ensuring quarterback Tyree Hayes had little time to survey the field. He finished 8 of 18 for 78 yards and an interception, and was sacked four times.

Miners running back Trayvon Ward concluded his career with 15 carries for 59 yards. He finished his spectacular senior season with 1,388 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns.

Pratt was proud of the way the defense played Thursday night and suggested the unit is the strongest part of the team.

“Once we come together, we’re unstoppable,” he said. “Nobody can beat us, but us.”

Lofton led the Jaguars with 137 rushing yards on five carries. Tight end Darnell Washington had three receptions for 65 yards and a touchdown, and Tye Moore added a touchdown catch.

“I knew really early the kids were ready,” Rodriguez said. “We’re not (in the state finals) yet, but we took a big step today.”

Contact reporter Sam Gordon at sgordon@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BySamGordon on Twitter.

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