FOOT SOLDIERS

Dust Devils senior right tackle Austin Sturdivant (75), senior right guard Ronan Reaves (61) and junior center Dillon Montgomery (58) go into pass protection mode against Mustangs defensive end Orion Evans (5) and the rest of Needles’ front seven during River Valley’s home victory Friday.

MOHAVE VALLEY — Zach Hammett scored four touchdowns to help the Dust Devils defeat their cross-river rival Needles High School Mustangs 49-18 at River Valley High School on Friday night.

“I thought we came together as a team and competed for 48 minutes,” Dust Devils head coach Jonathan Clark said. “We got hit in the mouth early, but we stepped up and responded. 

“We fought with intensity, and I think settled into a groove early on. We are fortunate to have athletes all across the field and feel confident in our players. 

“I think we played smart football and our players are meshing well together. This group has been grinding for months and I’m glad they could finally cash their check, but ultimately, I think the team played with passion, and us as a coaching staff are excited to see what comes next.”

River Valley’s sophomore running back gained 247 yards on 12 carries — unofficially — with three rushing TDs and another one on a reception during both teams’ season openers.

Mustangs senior running back Tyler White’s 5-yard TD run — 2-point run failed — put Needles ahead 6-0 with 5:33 remaining in the first quarter.

All three of the Mustangs’ 2-point attempts failed.

Hammett reeled off a 38-yard run during his first scamper from scrimmage, which helped set up his 3-yard TD run at 4:52, which put the Dust Devils ahead 7-6 after place-kicker Johnny Delgado’s PAT. Delgado went on to convert all seven of his PATs.

“My O-line did amazing,” Hammett said. “If it wasn’t for my team in there blocking last night, none of my touchdowns would have happened. 

“They all did their jobs, so I did mine. 

“We stayed in the game mentally and physically.”

Hammett’s 29-yard TD run made it 14-6 with 11:29 left in the second period, and senior quarterback Seth Christy tossed a 1-yard TD pass to make it 21-6     at 5:43.

The Dust Devils were pinned deep inside their own territory late in the first half when Christy tossed an interception to sophomore outside linebacker Ira Stone inside River Valley’s 10-yard line.

On thrid-and-10 from River Valley’s 2, Christy threw a bullet right at Stone, who picked the ball off at the 8, before advance it to the 1. One play later, White ran it in to make it 21-12 at 3:10.

On the ensuing drive, Christy tossed    a 24-yard, catch-and-run TD pass to Samuel Zegler-evans, which made it 28-12 at 1:51.

“We did do a good job at stopping their momentum,” Clark said. “As far as halftime, we spoke to the defense to make some adjustments, and told guys to hydrate and get ready for a physical second half. 

“We were ready to roll.”

Dust Devils senior running back Alex Castillo’s 5-yard TD run put River Valley ahead 35-12 with 4:54 left in the third quarter, and River Valley senior running back Oscar Diaz’s 9-yard TD run put River Valley ahead 42-12 with 7:30 left in  thee fourth period.

Needles senior quarterback Nathan Parker threw a 39-yard TD pass to freshman Christian Fuller, which made it 42-18 at 4:23.

Hammett ended the scoring, fittingly, with a 62-yard TD, which made it 49-18 at 2:41.

“He had a monster game,” said Clark about Hammett’s performance. “He had carries of 62 yards, 42 yards, 38 yards and 29 and 27 yards — five explosive plays. That huge.”

“I was very happy with our guys,” Clark said. “We only had eight linemen, total, and we played them all just about the entire game. 

“They rotated well and busted their butt to make a crease for our backs or to get after the quarterback. “I want to say we had at least four sacks and many pressures.

“There is more work to do. This is just a start.”

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