Sunnyside quarterback Jamie Valdez
(6) finds an opening and heads upfield in the Blue
Devils' 21-14 win over Ironwood Ridge.
SUNNYSIDE 21, IRONWOOD RIDGE 14
Devils pounce on Nighthawk mistakes
Jovan Stevenson's hands and legs are valuable assets.
The versatile senior halfback rushed for one touchdown and
scored two others on pass plays to spark Sunnyside to a
21-14 win over host Ironwood Ridge on Friday night in a
Class 5A Division II state quarterfinal game.
Sunnyside will play a semifinal game Nov. 30 against No. 1
Peoria Centennial at a neutral site. Centennial beat the
Blue Devils 34-0 in last year's state title game.
Friday's win came three weeks after Ironwood Ridge beat the
Blue Devils 15-14.
"I knew they were going to key on me in the run game, so all
week at practice I worked hard on running my routes and
catching the ball," said Stevenson,
who has orally committed to play next year at Oregon State.
"I have been trying to connect with (quarterback Jamie
Valdez) a little bit more."
Sunnyside's defense stopped Ironwood Ridge twice on fourth
down in the final quarter to protect the lead.
The Nighthawks' final offensive threat was snuffed out when
quarterback Christopher Carlson was nailed for no gain on a
bootleg run on fourth-and-1 from the Sunnyside 19 with 1:03
left to play.
"We read the play wrong. It was just a breakdown on our
part," Carlson said.
Ironwood Ridge led 14-7 at halftime, but Sunnyside punished
the Nighthawks with touchdowns for two costly mistakes in
the decisive third quarter.
Stevenson shook free of coverage on a third-and-6 play for a
72-yard score with 4:09 left in the quarter to tie it at 14.
Stevenson, who finished with 104 receiving yards, caught the
ball from Valdez in full stride.
"We knew coming into the game that we were going to have to
use him to catch the ball and run the ball," Sunnyside coach
Richard Sanchez said.
On Ironwood Ridge's ensuing possession, a bad snap caused
punter Adrian Ruiz to be tackled at the Ironwood Ridge
Stevenson roared through a hole on the right side on the
next play to make it 21-14.
Stevenson, who plays wide receiver when the Blue Devils use
a spread offense, scored on a 25-yard pass with 1:42 left in
the second quarter to tie the game at 7.
Ironwood Ridge quickly responded to take the halftime lead.
Carlson threw a 37-yard scoring pass to wide receiver Jay
Helixon with five seconds left in the half.
Jake Fischer led Ironwood Ridge with 112 rushing yards.
"Sunnyside swarmed to the ball. They often changed to a 50
front a lot of the time," Fischer said. "Physically, they
were a lot tougher this time."