Dragons shake off 16 penalties to cruise past Sundevils

Del Sol coach Preston Goroff wasn’t happy with how his team played Friday night.

Just the end result.

Sixth-ranked Del Sol overcame a sloppy start and 115 yards on 16 penalties Friday to pull out a 40-6 home win over Eldorado.

“The week off killed us; I’m not sure if we didn’t prepare right or what,” said Goroff, whose team had a second-week bye. “Those penalties stumped us almost every drive we had.”

Del Sol wasn’t stumped on kick returns and defense, though. The Dragons (2-0) held Eldorado scoreless until midway through the third quarter, and Del Sol’s defense forced two fumble recoveries and two interceptions, including one for a 33-yard touchdown return late in the game.

Standout running back Chris Marshall came back from a sputtering start to rush for 106 yards and a touchdown, and added a 73-yard punt return for a touchdown that sparked the Dragons’ second-half scoring barrage.

Marshall wasn’t the only speedy return threat for Del Sol. Tremar Pike, a 5-foot-7, 128-pound senior, broke the game open with a 93-yard kickoff return immediately following Eldorado’s Javen Nihipali snared a 50-yard touchdown pass late in the third quarter for the Sundevils’ only score of the game.

Eldorado (1-1) would only get close to the end zone one more time after Pike’s return, and Del Sol’s Dwayne Kirkland stole an interception and ran it back 33 yards to put the Dragons up 34-6 with seven minutes remaining.

Del Sol quarterback Nathan Kirschbaum threw for 164 yards and a touchdown, and lineman Ben Littlefield anchored a steady defensive line that kept the Sundevils’ offense off-balance all night.

Ty Nihipali led Eldorado with 38 rushing yards, and Cameron Howard threw for 74 yards and a touchdown.

Goroff said he expects a sharper squad next week at Silverado.

“We can’t start from Week 1 again,” he said. “Our kick game tonight was great. Hopefully we can get our passing game going, too. We’re not married to any offense this year.”