Pumphrey rescues Pioneers, sets up Northeast showdown

Canyon Springs may have been caught looking to a big Northeast League showdown with undefeated Las Vegas High next week.

Valley kept its sights on the present — and nearly pulled off an upset.

Donnel Pumphrey had 223 yards and each of Canyon Springs’ four touchdowns, and the No. 10 Pioneers overcame a 14-12 halftime deficit to escape with a 28-21 victory over the host Vikings.

“We knew what was at stake,” Canyon Springs coach Hunkie Cooper said. “Of course, you have to test things. You didn’t know the tea was hot until you put it in hot water. We did things tonight, and it was an effort by the entire team.”

The Vikings (3-5, 3-3 Northeast) took the lead into locker room on a pair of touchdown passes by quarterback Anthony Sanders, but Pumphrey stole the show in the second half. The Pioneer junior running back scored on back-to-back possessions with runs of 61 and 52 yards in the third quarter to put Canyon Springs (6-2, 6-0) ahead for good.

“I have been around lots of special players, and Donnel is very special,” Cooper said of Pumphrey, who ran for 159 yards after the break. “He can do it all, and he’s an honor student. It’s not just about him, however.”

Sanders had a 35-yard touchdown pass to Kennedy Williams in the first quarter, and added a 13-yard TD strike to Dillard Davis in the second to give the Vikings the halftime lead. But the Pioneers’ defense stepped up, and held Valley without a score until Davis’ 6-yard TD run with 3:05 remaining.

Austin Cooper pulled down an interception at midfield in the game’s closing seconds for Sanders’ second pick of the night, and the Pioneers held on for the win.

Pumphrey pulled Canyon Springs within two at the half on runs of 1 and 15 yards.

Sanders completed 13 of 21 passes for 131 yards, and Williams hauled in seven catches for 100 yards.

Davis added 49 yards on the ground for Valley.

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