Sundevils score 27 straight points, end Rams’ playoff hopes

Rancho was in control of its own destiny on Friday night, needing a home victory to clinch passage to the Sunrise Region playoffs.

The Rams appeared to be on their way after jumping to a 16-0 lead after three possessions and going up 22-8 late in the first half.

But Eldorado dashed Rancho’s hopes, scoring 27 unanswered points — including two scores with less than four minutes left — to knock the Rams out of a playoff spot with a 35-22 victory.

“We were in control of getting in (the playoffs),” Rancho coach Elvin Dick said. “I thought we had a good start. We just stopped making plays on offense and stopped tackling on defense. You can’t make mistakes and expect to win football games.”

The Sundevils (4-5, 3-4) began their comeback when junior Javen Nihipali took a short screen pass from quarterback Nicholas Blackmon and sprinted 62 yards for a score with 3:05 left in the half.

Blackmon threw for a season-high 328 yards and Nihipali hauled in six receptions for 192 yards.

Eldorado cut it to 22-20 with three minutes left in the third quarter when O’Darius Mitchell outleaped a defender for a 26-yard TD catch.

The Sundevils took their first lead, 28-22, with 3:43 left when Ty Nihipali broke several tackles to score on a 2-yard run. Blackmon then hit Mitchell for the two-point conversion.

Eldorado put the game away when junior Justin Brown returned an interception 56 yards for a touchdown.

Brown also had an 8-yard scoring run that open the scoring for the Sundevils early in the second quarter.

“I’m proud of our guys,” Eldorado coach Vernon Brown said. “It just shows that the mentality at Eldorado is changing.”

Rancho (3-6, 3-4) took an 8-0 lead on its second possession of the game when quarterback Will Gosse-Gardet hit junior Tommy Perkins for a 16-yard TD pass. Perkins also ran in the two-point conversion.

The Rams made it 16-0 on their next possession when Jason Ferrell scored on a 67-yard run and then ran in the two-point conversion. Ferrell finished with a game-high 139 yards rushing.

Following an interception by Max Cruz, Gosse-Gardet hit Alvaro Vasquez for a 19-yard score to make it 22-8 with 3:48 left in the half.

Gosse-Gardet finished with 123 passing yards, ending the season with 1,437 yards and 14 touchdowns.

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