Sunnyside running back Jovan Stevenson eludes would-be tacklers during a 59-yard TD run that gave the Blue Devils the win. Stevenson finished with 200 yards on 24 carries.


One victory away

Stevenson rushes for 200 yards; Sunnyside reaches 5A DII title game

Tucson Citizen

Jovan Stevenson answered the call.

As a result, the Sunnyside High School football team is moving on in the state playoffs.

The Blue Devils topped Tempe Marcos de Niza 21-14 Friday night in a Class 5A Division II semifinal contest at Flowing Wells High.

"I looked in my friend Patrick Medina's eyes. He is a senior wide receiver, and he said, 'Lets go,' " said Stevenson, Sunnyside's star running back. "I told him, 'I am here with you.' "

Stevenson ran for 200 yards on 24 attempts to push No. 2 seed Sunnyside (11-2) into the state title game next Saturday against No. 1 seed Peoria Centennial (13-0). The games starts at 5 p.m. in Glendale, at the new University of Phoenix Stadium.

Stevenson, a junior, had an electrifying 59-yard touchdown run in the third quarter that turned out to be the deciding points against the pesky No. 11-seeded Padres.

"I saw open field over there and I took it, and nobody was catching me," Stevenson said.

He thrilled the Sunnyside fans when he slashed through the Padres' defensive front on a first-and-10 from the Blue Devils' 41 with 3:36 left in the third, and then made a big-time cutback across the field to get into the end zone. The run put the Blue Devils up 21-7.

The loss ended an improbable run for Marcos de Niza, which entered the playoffs with a 4-6 record but knocked off two higher-seeded opponents to make the semifinals.

"I am very proud of the boys. They played unbelievably hard," said Padres coach Roy Lopez.

The Padres (6-7) took an early lead, going 70 yards after a punt. Harrison Evans put the Padres on the scoreboard with a 22-yard touchdown run. Harrison had a stellar night. He rushed for 123 yards on 21 carries and caught six passes for 108 yards.

The Blue Devils scored the next 21 points, before Marcos de Niza scored the final points on a run by quarterback David Viel early in fourth quarter.

Sunnyside's defense, led by Jose Herrera and Zach Holmes, snuffed out the Padres' final drives, as the Blue Devils forced the ball to be turned over twice on downs in the final two minutes.

"The defense played pretty good, but our offensive did a pretty good job putting 21 points on the scoreboard," Sunnyside coach Richard Sanchez said.

Sunnyside scored its first two touchdowns with a 12-yard scoring pass from Sammy Olivas to Stevenson, and a 9-yard pass from Olivas to Holmes.

"Our line came out, and we played pretty good. We made some mistakes, but Jovan (Stevenson) made up for them with his big runs," offensive tackle Issac Villa said.