It came down to the very last play of the game, but the sixth-ranked Desert Vista Thunder held off No. 3 Perry to advance to the 6A semifinals with a 70-63 victory.
It was an explosive game offensively for both teams, but Desert Vista’s defense was able to make the necessary stop on the final drive of the game to get the job done. Both teams played their hearts out for all four quarters of the game, making for an exciting night of football for the fans of both teams.
“When you’ve got a guy like Chubba Purdy running that offense, they put up a lot of points. Defensively, we made great strides,” Desert Vista coach Dan Hinds said. “We talked to defense about making enough stops to win the game, and that’s what we did.”
The game was a back and forth battle from the start, but an exciting one none the less. By halftime, Desert Vista quarterback Parker Navarro had already passed for 263 yards, completing 14-of-17 passes to give the Thunder a 35-21 lead. Perry’s quarterback Chubba Purdy wasn’t too far behind Navarro, though, passing for 249 yards in the first half, completing seven of his 9 pass attempts.
Both teams came back out fired up and ready to go, but ultimately, it would come down to Desert Vista’s ground game, which was able to generate nearly 175 more yards than Perry’s when the final buzzer rang.
For Desert Vista’s ground attack, it was pretty much all senior running back Tyson Grubbs. Grubbs went off, racking up nearly 140 rushing yards and two touchdowns in the game.
“We’ve been talking the whole season about playing four quarters, and we haven’t really been able to do that all season. We knew that nobody has seen us play four quarters, we hadn’t even seen us play four quarters, and we knew it would be dangerous. We just put it all together tonight,” Grubbs said.
Desert Vista had more than 700 yards of total offense at the end of the night, with senior quarterback Parker Navarro passing for nearly 435 yards. Navarro looked sharp in the game, completing 19-of-22 passes overall on the night, frequently connecting with receiver Elijah Ervin. Overall, Navarro passed for seven touchdowns, three of which were to Ervin.
“It’s so memorable. This game is by far the craziest game I’ve ever been a part of. When the stage is big, it’s an opportunity to have a big performance, so I executed what I had planned and I’m glad everything worked out,” Navarro said.
For Ervin, this win was one he’d been hungry for since last season. Ervin touched on how much he had been anticipating this game, and how being able reach the end zone three different times in the game was a testament to all of the hard work and dedication put in by not only himself, but all of his teammates.
“We’ve been working for this since last year. We wanted our revenge. I love everyone on this team and we’ve just got to build on this now,” Ervin said.
Desert Vista will play no. 7 Liberty next week in hopes of advancing to the 6A Conference championship. The game will be played at Mountain Pointe High School.
For Perry, their season came to a heartbreaking close with the loss of the game. While the Pumas were scratching and clawing all night, the defense struggled to make crucial stops on a number of plays. Coach Preston Jones is still proud of his team for all they were able to accomplish this year.
“Only one team’s happy at the end of the year,” Jones said. “We’ve got a good group of kids, I’m real proud of them, and as you can see, they showed their resiliency and fought until the last play and still almost pulled it off some how. I’m proud of them. Of course we want to win more, but there’s more things in life than just wins and losses.”
PERRY 14 7 21 21 -- 63
DESERT VISTA 14 21 14 21 -- 70
PERRY – Chubba Purdy 13-yard TD pass to Broc Lane (Kyler McCarthy Kick) 6:12
DESERT VISTA – Parker Navarro 14-yard TD pass to Elijah Ervin (Marlon Hauck kick) 4:05
DESERT VISTA – Tyson Grubbs 4-yard TD run (Hauck kick) 1:03
PERRY – Purdy 72-yard TD pass to Bryce Holdridge (McCarthy kick) 0:24
DESERT VISTA – Navarro 17-yard TD pass to Taron Thomas (Hauck kick) 8:53
DESERT VISTA – Navarro 57-yard TD pass to Thomas (Hauck Kick) 6:08
PERRY – Purdy 68-yard TD pass to Holdridge (McCarthy Kick) 5:50
DESERT VISTA – Navarro 42-yard TD pass to Ervin (Hauck kick) 0:45
PERRY – Purdy 9-yard TD run (McCarthy Kick) 11:37
DESERT VISTA – Navarro 56-yard TD pass to Ervin (Hauck kick) 9:54
PERRY – Purdy pass to Jorden Young (McCarthy Kick) 5:49
DESERT VISTA – Navarro 19-yard TD pass to Colton Grover (Hauck kick) 2:39
PERRY – Purdy 65-yard TD pass to Young (McCarthy Kick) 2:14
DESERT VISTA – Grubbs 1-yard TD run (Hauck kick) 11:34
PERRY – Nathaniel Miles 2-yard TD run (McCarthy Kick) 8:24
PERRY – Purdy 15-yard TD run (McCarthy kick) 6:42
PERRY – Purdy 17-yard TD pass to Young (McCarthy kick) 4:52
DESERT VISTA – Navarro 63-yard TD pass to Ervin (Hauck kick) 4:36
DESERT VISTA – Navarro 5-yard TD run (Hauck kick) 0:19