Del Sol tight end Kemani Wilks stepped in as an emergency fullback and ran for three fourth-quarter touchdowns as the Dragons cruised to a 40-21 victory over visiting Chaparral on Friday night.
Del Sol (2-2) totaled 519 yards of offense as Trey Alexander rushed 18 times for 163 yards. Dragons’ quarterback Andre Nevarez was 16-of-31 passing for 275 yards and two long touchdowns to Markell Turner.
The Dragons’ defense also came up big, forcing five turnovers.
“During the entire offseason, the coaches have been preaching defense, defense, defense, to us,” said Wilks, who also plays defensive end. “Our defense has stepped up and improved this year, so now we are more balanced.”
Nevarez was picked off four times, and Del Sol also lost a fumble. The Cowboys lost four fumbles, though, and junior quarterback Iopu Tauli’ili threw an interception.
Del Sol trailed 21-15 before scoring the final 25 points of the game.
Nevarez’s 29-yard run with 3:51 to go in the second quarter tied the game at 21-all, and it stayed that way until Wilks took over in the fourth quarter.
Wilks scored on runs of 1, 3 and 7 yards in the final 9:58 to complete the comeback.
“We know that we gain hundreds of yards on offense,” Dragons coach Mike Valenzuela said. “It was nice to grind out a win on the ground for a change.”
Tauli’ili helped stake Chaparral (1-1) to its early lead. He was 8-of-18 passing for 148 yards and ran another 18 times for 118 yards and three touchdowns.
The two teams combined for five touchdowns in a 4-minute span late in the first quarter and early in the second, starting with Turner’s first touchdown reception, a 60-yard strike from Nevarez with 2:35 left in the first quarter.
Chaparral needed two plays to counter as Tauli’ili scored from 15 yards out on a read-option play, pulling the Cowboys within 9-7.
Del Sol responded two plays later when Nevarez hit Turner over the top for an 80-yard touchdown. Turner finished with six catches for 160 yards and the two scores.
The Cowboys needed six plays to cut the Del Sol lead to 15-14 with the drive ending on another 15-yard scoring run by Tauli’ili. He added a 10-yard touchdown run after Chaparral defensive lineman Tomas Benitez picked off an attempted Nevarez screen pass and Chaparral had its first lead of the game up 21-15 with 11:13 left in the second quarter.
Chaparral had chances to go back ahead in the third quarter but couldn’t capitalize as Tauli’ili fumbled twice in the red zone. Cowboys coach Don Willis lamented the missed opportunities.
“It seemed whenever we got a turnover, we just turned it back over to them,” Willis said.