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Pioneers hold off Silverado

Canyon Springs’ Trey Evans wasn’t going to let his team’s two second-half turnovers end his senior season.

So he just took the ball back.

Evans recovered a fumble to stop a promising Silverado drive with 3:52 to play, then intercepted a pass with 23.5 seconds left to seal a 20-17 home win over the Skyhawks (6-4) in the Sunrise Region quarterfinals on Friday.

“This is what everybody dreams of, making big plays and outshining people,” Evans said.

The Pioneers (7-3) play at Liberty (9-1) in the Sunrise semifinals on Thursday. Liberty advanced with a 34-6 win over Rancho on Friday.

“I’m a senior right now, and I’ve never been past the first round of the playoffs, so it feels good,” Evans said.

Canyon Springs was clinging to a 20-17 lead when quarterback D’Vante Howard fumbled with 8:24 to go. Silverado recovered and drove past midfield, but fullback Corey Iwata fumbled, and Evans pounced on the ball with 3:52 to go.

“They were successfully moving the football and getting in scoring range at the same time,” Canyon Springs coach Hunkie Cooper said. “All they had to do was get in field-goal range. They have a really good field-goal kicker, so we had to get a turnover.

“Fortunately that ball popped out, and we were able to get it.”

Canyon Springs drove to the Silverado 16 before turning the ball over on downs with 1:08 to play.

Silverado advanced the ball to its 31. On second-and-5, Corey Esco nearly came up with a game-clinching interception but didn’t come down inbounds. On the next play, though, Evans intercepted a Roger Price pass, and the Pioneers ran out the clock.

“We just kept staying in the fight,” Cooper said. “Our worst enemy has been ourself, getting in our own way. And we were able to overcome those challenges tonight and come out with a tough victory.”

Canyon Springs led 14-3 at the half, but Silverado scored on its first two possessions of the third quarter to take the lead.

Jerrell Norman returned the second-half kickoff 61 yards, and a facemask penalty allowed Silverado to start the drive at the Canyon Springs 12.

Five plays later, Iwata scored on a 1-yard run, then caught a 2-point conversion pass from Price to cut the Skyhawks’ deficit to 14-11.

Norman then intercepted a Howard pass at the Silverado 35. That set up a 46-yard touchdown run by Dominic Molina on fourth-and-2.

“I talked about becoming players with character, and that’s what happened tonight,” Cooper said. “We fumbled the football, threw an interception. In past years, we would have crumbled in that situation.

“Our defense, they’ve been playing hard all year. And they came back and came up with big plays.”

After Silverado took the lead, the Pioneers drove 65 yards on 11 plays, capped by a 4-yard touchdown run by Malik Brown to make it 20-17 with 1:37 to go in the third quarter.

It was Brown’s second TD run of the night. He also had a 38-yard scoring run with 55.8 seconds left in the first quarter.

Just before the half, the Pioneers drove 51 yards on 14 plays, capped by a 6-yard touchdown pass from Howard to Evans with 31.5 seconds to go.

Howard was flushed out of the pocket on third-and-goal but rolled to his right and found Evans, who made a leaping catch in the end zone.

“Trey made big plays offensively for us, big plays defensively for us, a big play on special teams,” Cooper said. “Our seniors stepped up to play tonight. They all played well.”

Brown finished with 107 yards on 16 carries. Evans had six catches for 67 yards to key the passing game.

Molina rushed for 113 yards on 17 carries to lead the Skyhawks.

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