The Durango High football team is undefeated thanks to a brilliant performance from the Demons’ defense and a clutch kick from Harrison Kairalla that lifted the Demons to a 3-0 overtime win against Delta Thursday night at DHS Stadium.
Kairalla, a senior in his first year at kicker, missed a 33-yard field goal with about four minutes remaining in regulation, but drilled the game-winner from 23 to win the game.
“I don’t even remember what happened,” Kairalla said of the immediate aftermath following the game winner. “It was crazy. I’ve never had anything like that happen to me before.”
The defense did its part and held Delta to 139 yards of offense and seven first downs in the game. Six of Delta’s first downs came in the second half, and three of those occurred on Delta’s final possession of regulation when the Demons were more concerned with giving up a big play that could swing the game.
“That’s got to be our sparkplug,” Durango head coach David Vogt said of the defense. “That seems to be our identity now, so we’re going to roll with it.”
The two teams showed signs of it being their first game of the season. The Demons were hit with nine penalties in the first half while the offense struggled to get in a rhythm. Vogt said the penalties were mostly the result of the Demons’ over eagerness to make plays.
In seven possessions in the first half, Durango managed just five first downs, three of which came on the Demons’ final drive of the half.
“We were killing ourselves with penalties,” Durango quarterback Max Hyson said. “Every time we’d get a big play a penalty would drive us back and that’s not recipe for success.”
Weather also played a factor in the offense’s slow start. A heavy rain storm that came with a lightning delay before the game made the field wet, and rain fell off and on during the first half. With wet conditions, Durango had trouble snapping the ball. On a number of occasions the snap came out low and plays never had a chance to develop.
Durango and Delta both lost fumbles in the first half, but neither side could turn the turnover into points.
Durango had its best chance for a score late in the second quarter. The Demons moved the ball into the red zone and had first and goal at the Delta 9-yard line. But penalties and plays for negative yards moved the Demons back 20 yards and a throw to the end zone with no time left fell incomplete.
Not much changed in the third quarter. The Demons struggled to just six yards in two possessions, but again kept Delta’s offense in check, giving up 31 yards in the quarter. DHS had only 30 yards of offense in the second half.
“We knew (Delta) couldn’t really do anything against our defense,” Hyson said. “We knew our defense was going to light them up, and that’s what we did. Fight, finish, faith, and we got them.”
In overtime, Delta had third and goal at the 1-yard line, but fumbled the snap and Hyson jumped on the ball for the recovery, setting up Kairalla’s game winner.
Durango will host Aztec on Sept. 1 at DHS.