Las Vegas Sun

September 23, 2021

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Basic erases deficit, makes statement with win against Durango

Basic vs. Durango

Mona Shield Payne / Special to the Sun

After trailing for three quarters, the Basic Wolves race onto the field Friday night to celebrate their 22-14 victory over the Durango Trailblazers.

Basic vs. Durango

Durango running back Antonio Nieves (22) and offensive lineman Tyler Lavin (55) get pumped up by chanting the Samoan Haka war dance with their teammates before Friday's game against Basic. Basic won the game, 22-14. Launch slideshow »

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Benny Gutierrez wasn’t expected to be the Basic High football team’s feature running back Friday night.

Then again, on a team of no stars where everyone doing their part is considered the key for success, Gutierrez’s three touchdown runs against host Durango shouldn’t be that big of a surprise.

Called into action after the running back ahead of him was injured, Gutierrez scored on a 4-yard run with less than four minutes to play to break a 14-all score and give Basic a 22-14 victory.

The Wolves trailed 7-0 at halftime before closing the game with 16 unanswered points — all by Gutierrez on two touchdowns and a pair of 2-point conversions.

“I told my teammates (at halftime) that I wasn’t going to lose this game,” said Gutierrez, a 5-foot-7, 175-pound senior who also had scoring runs of 5 and 3 yards. “We ran hard. We ran over them.”

After Gutierrez’s final touchdown, the Wolves recovered an onside kick and essentially ran out the clock. Basic was sluggish in the first half in falling to score, but came out of the locker room for the second half with a newfound intensity.

“We just came out flat in the first half,” said senior wide receiver Dominic Villas, whose 43-yard reception in the second half set-up a Gutierrez touchdown. “We knew we could beat them. We ended up showing we came to play. We made a statement.”

Basic won the Southeast Division in 2008 and advanced to the state semifinals last fall, but the athletes still play with a chip on their shoulder each Friday night as if they have something to prove.

Several Basic players aren’t the biggest or quickest — a fact the coaches admit. But coaches also say their effort can’t be matched.

“We tell them all the time that hard work pays off,” Basic coach Jeff Cahill said.

Cahill reaffirmed to the players following the game that it was a team victory. Offensively, eight players received carries, and several rotated in and out all night at multiple positions to stay fresh.

Basic also had a solid night defensively. It held Julio Mora, the state’s leading rusher last year, to less than 100 yards. Also, a second-half interception from Dante Rogers in the end zone was arguably the game’s biggest play.

Durango took a 7-0 lead on the last play of the first quarter when Donovan Smith broke loose for a 62-yard touchdown run. Mora also had a short scoring run in the second half.

“We made one mistake, and No. 12 (Smith) is fast and he made us pay for it,” Cahill said.

Quarterback Vince Carducci orchestrated the comeback, combining to pass and run for nearly 300 yards. Last week in a win against Boulder City, he passed for four touchdowns.

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