The Durango Trailblazers improved to 4-0 for the first time in 15 years after hanging on to beat the host Bonanza Bengals in a 21-20 thriller.
“We feel that we have a team that’s a little bit better than we’ve had the past couple of years,” Durango head coach Matt Gerber said. “We’ve had a schedule that’s helped us out a little bit as well, but we’re winning games we probably wouldn’t have won last year. A game like this, I don’t think we win that last year. We’re finding ways to win, but we still got a long way to go.”
The Trailblazers, now 2-0 in Southwest League play, controlled the game most of the way thanks to senior running back Kamara Alhaji-Ibrahim, who ran for 164 yards and a touchdown on 32 carries.
But Bonanza (1-3, 0-2) refused to go away, even after falling behind 21-7 heading into the fourth quarter.
Bengals quarterback Cannon Reid scored on a 1-yard run early in the fourth to cut the lead to 21-14, and Bonanza’s Josh Wilson blocked a punt with 4:03 left in the fourth quarter.
The Bengals pulled within one when R. J. McCarter caught a 27-yard touchdown pass from Reid with 54 seconds remaining in the game.
But Bonzana head coach Dion Lee wasn’t thinking tie. He wanted the win and went for two.
The Trailblazers tackled Bonanza running back Ricardo Hill, who ran for 155 yards and a touchdown, behind the line of scrimmage and the Trailblazers celebrated the biggest stop of their season.
“I’ll take the blame on the last play,” Lee said. “I called the wrong formation. Right play, wrong formation.
“Hey, we’re Bonanza, what have we got to lose?” Lee added. “We came to fight. The score should have been 42-0 from what I heard. It’s 21-20 and I’m proud of that.”
Bonanza recovered an onside kick at the Durango 40 but threw four straight incompletions to end the game.
Alhaji-Ibrahim and the Trailblazers are in good spirits.
“I’m excited, especially from last year,” Alhaji-Ibrahim said. “We went 0-9, but our team stepped up and we came through this season. We’ve got the fire and intensity for the season.”