Sophomore Isaiah Morris scored three touchdowns, converted two 2-point conversions and intercepted two passes as host Desert Pines held off Clark 42-40 on Friday.
“He’s a special talent and a phenomenal kid,” Desert Pines coach Tico Rodriguez said. “We are looking for some great things in his future.”
The Jaguars (2-0) needed every bit of Morris’ heroics as their offense struggled in the ugly win, turning the ball over five times and failing to gain a first down in the second half. Desert Pines managed only seven yards on six possessions in the second half.
Desert Pines also hurt itself with more than 100 yards in penalties for the second week in a row. A special-teams miscue even led to an easy Clark touchdown when Brendon Jackson recovered a fumbled punt in the end zone.
“It was an ugly win, and we did everything within our ability to almost lose this game,” Rodriguez said. “Our kids fought tough until the end, but we just didn’t play well.
“A game like this shows the mental toughness of our team. Our kids were challenged tonight, and we knew they’d be challenged. Sometimes you get challenges and you want to see the character of your team. They showed some grit tonight. It was an ugly win, but its a win. We’ll survive and get ready for next week.”
After the Chargers (1-1) tied the score at 28-28 late in the third quarter on Ty’Rek Wells’ 1-yard touchdown plunge, Morris returned the ensuing kickoff back 82 yards to put the Jags up, 34-28.
“I know I have the speed,” Morris said. “I’m not big or strong, but I’ve got the speed to get outside. I started out running to the middle, and I saw the defense came inside. So, I bounced outside and used my speed to get out there.”
Morris capped off his heroic night by intercepting Clark’s Nick Kinnard a second time as the Chargers were trying to drive for the go-ahead score in the final minute.
“If we are doing bad, I know I got to step up,” Morris said. “I know I’m just a sophomore, but I looked around and stepped up to make a play for our team so we could get the W.”
Morris scored the first touchdown of the night on a 1-yard run. Later in the second quarter with the Chargers driving, Morris picked off a pass from Kinnard and raced 69 yards for a touchdown that put the Jags ahead 20-14.
Morris also rushed for 63 yards on 11 carries and caught one pass for 33 yards.
Rodriguez said his young team needs to mature a lot faster as the Jaguars host Division 1-A Sunrise League rival Moapa Valley (2-0) next week.
“We’ve got a lot of young players, and we just need to mature,” Rodriguez said. “Our maturation as a team needs to pick up a lot faster. As coaches, we’ll fix it. We’ll go back to the drawing board, look at the mistakes and try to correct them.”
The Chargers were led by Marquice Stuart, who caught seven passes for 93 yards and a touchdown. He also returned a kickoff 64 yards for a score and intercepted a pass.