Durango football runs past Aztec with dominant rushing performance

Durango piles up 371 rushing yards in rout of Tigers

Durango’s Gavin Mestas breaks away for a big gain against Aztec on Friday night at DHS. Mestas scored two touchdowns and had two interceptions in the Demons’ victory. Enlarge photo

Jerry McBride/Durango Herald

Durango’s Gavin Mestas breaks away for a big gain against Aztec on Friday night at DHS. Mestas scored two touchdowns and had two interceptions in the Demons’ victory.

After last week’s 3-0 overtime win against Delta, Durango High School head football coach David Vogt said the Demons’ defense might be what the team relies on in 2017.

The defense provided again, coming up with four turnovers to help Durango to a 35-14 win against Aztec on Friday night at DHS. But it was the Demons’ offense, particularly their running game, that highlighted the night.

The Demons scored on its first two possessions of the game, had two touchdown drives of more than 80 yards, piled up 371 rushing yards and had 14 runs of 10 or more yards.

“We challenged our offensive line last week and they really stepped up,” Vogt said.

The defense was also great in the win. Aztec’s standout quarterback Cody Smith racked up his fair share of yards in the air and on the ground, but the Demons intercepted him four times.

Gavin Mestas had two interceptions, while Alex Hise and Dawson Marcum snagged the others.

“He’s a stud,” Mestas said of Smith.

“We’ve been preparing for a solid week, and this was revenge week. Last year they beat us 14-13, and this week we were on a mission for revenge. We wanted that win, and I’m glad we were able to get it.”

After the defense forced Aztec to punt on the opening possession of the game, the Demons drove 85 yards – all on the ground – and found the end zone with a 1-yard run from senior fullback Manasseh Brockus.

The first two possessions of the game summed up most of the night for the Tigers, who were pushed around for the majority of the game.

“I never felt like we were ever in the game,” Aztec coach Matthew Steinfeldt said. “We never came with the same mentality that Durango came with. Durango punched us in the face, and we never responded. They played an extremely physical game, they were well coached and they gang tackled on defense. We never responded to the type of physicality that was played tonight.”

The Demons held Aztec to another punt on the ensuing possession and later found the end zone after Gavin Martin ran on a fake punt for a 40-yard score to make it 14-0.

“Coach Vogt was telling me how (Aztec) crashes really hard on the outside,” Mestas said. “I just trusted Max (Hyson) and (Brockus) for my blocks. I just followed them and my X and Z receivers to the end zone.”

Aztec cut the Demons’ lead in half on a 1-yard run that capped a short 37-yard drive. But the Demons pushed the lead back to 14 points almost immediately.

Aztec elected for a short kickoff to try to prevent a long return, but Marcum bounced around and weaved through the coverage to get to the Aztec 31-yard line. One play later, the Demons were in the end zone after Hyson lateraled to Mestas, who sprinted down the sideline for the touchdown.

Aztec threatened to score in the final minute of the half, driving into the red zone, but Hise made a leaping snag to pick off Smith in the end zone to keep the score at 21-7.

“That was amazing. That was a SportsCenter Top-10 play right there,” Vogt said of Hise’s interception. “We preach momentum, and when we get plays like that that to go our way, everyone gets jacked up and plays even harder.”

The offense kept rolling in the second half. The Demons received the kickoff to start the third quarter and methodically marched 83 yards – again all on the ground – scoring on a 2-yard run by Marcum.

Durango scored its final touchdown of the game on a 10-yard run from Everett Howland.

Durango will host Pieda Vista at 1 p.m. next Saturday.

The two programs are familiar with each other, usually playing every season, and the Demons are already well tested in the running game the Panthers like to use, drawing confidence from last week’s win over a run-heavy Delta team.

“Already seeing that kind of offense and being prepared for it is huge,” Vogt said. “Hopefully we can get a shutout again.”

kschneider@durangoherald.com

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