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Prolific passing helps Canyon Springs top Palo Verde

Xavier DeLong and the Canyon Springs passing attack did whatever it wanted in Friday night’s 4A Mountain Region quarterfinal against Palo Verde.

Delong completed 13 of 17 passes for 323 yards and three touchdowns in a convincing 35-10 home victory over the Panthers. Canyon Springs (7-3) carries a six-game winning streak into next week’s region semifinal against Faith Lutheran.

“Xavier is just coming along. That kid is a phenomenal athlete,” Canyon Springs head coach Gus McNair said. “He’s grasping the playbook, studying. He’s doing what he needs to do to be successful. He wants to win.”

DeLong’s final passing touchdown of the night, a 40-yard strike to Jayvion Pugh, put the Pioneers up 20-3 at the 10 minute, 13 second mark in the third quarter. It was the third play from scrimmage after a Palo Verde fumble.

The Panthers (5-5) fumbled the ensuing kickoff, and Pugh scored ran for a 24-yard touchdown two plays later to put the game out of reach. Palo Verde finished with four turnovers that Canyon Springs converted into 21 points.

“We just turned the ball over. You can’t beat anyone, let alone a playoff team, if you turn the ball over,” Palo Verde head coach Joe Aznarez said. “We picked a bad time to make early-season mistakes.”

The Panthers grabbed a 3-0 lead with 2:10 left in the first quarter when Zach Moore drilled a 39-yard field goal. The hosts answered on their next drive with a 59-yard touchdown pass from DeLong to Javeion Davison — starting a run of 35-straight points.

Davison caught three passes for a game-high 145 yards and a score.

Palo Verde’s lone touchdown came with 42 seconds left on a Maximus Lear 9-yard run. Dacen Phister led the Panthers with 69 yards on nine carries.

Canyon Springs will play for a spot in the Mountain Region title game next Friday against Faith Lutheran.

“(Head coach) Vernon (Fox) is my brother, I love Vernon,” McNair said. “We go back and forth so much … We already talked about if we played each other, and now we finally do.”

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