Published Friday, Sept. 9, 2011 | 11 p.m.
Updated Saturday, Sept. 10, 2011 | 12:48 a.m.
Las Vegas Sun sports reporters Ray Brewer and Case Keefer look ahead to another week of high school football and detail why the Northwest division appears to be the strongest in town. Palo Verde, Arbor View, Centennial, Cimarron and Cheyenne have all looked impressive in the early season.
Foothill High senior wide receiver Kyle Keplinger hauled in an 18-yard touchdown reception from Drew Doxtator with 2:29 remaining in Friday’s football game to give the Falcons a 28-24 victory over Desert Oasis.
“We were able to overcome adversity and that’s what we really strive to do,” Keplinger said. “We don’t want to succumb to it.”
Keplinger had four receptions for 70 yards and a touchdown, while Doxtator completed 19 of 27 passes for 210 yards and a touchdown.
Doxtator was especially accurate throwing the ball in the fourth quarter. The sophomore completed his final nine passes of the game, including the game-winner to Keplinger.
“In the first half, we came out flat. But in the second half, we played like ourselves,” Doxtator said. “It’s great for our confidence. It will definitely help with team bonding.”
It was a tale of two halves as a track meet ensued in the second half after a defensive battle in the first 24 minutes of the game.
The Falcons led 7-0 at halftime with the only score of the first half coming on a Jarett Arcangel 3-yard touchdown run midway through the second quarter.
Arcangel’s touchdown rush was setup by Keplinger’s leaping, 33-yard reception on 3-and-8 from the Desert Oasis 42.
The second half was a back-and-forth battle.
Desert Oasis struck first in the second half as junior running back Mark Fredericks scored on a 9-yard touchdown run on the Diamondbacks’ opening possession of the third quarter.
Fredericks’ 45-yard carry earlier in the possession helped setup his touchdown run. Desert Oasis was unable to pull even, though, as kicker Matt Howard missed the point after try.
Foothill resorted to trickery on its ensuing possession as the Falcons scored a touchdown on a fake field goal to take a 14-6 lead.
The holder, Andre Gonzalez, took the snap and ran a bootleg to his left, where he found a wide-open Tate Warr for a 15-yard touchdown strike.
Desert Oasis quickly answered with a touchdown from quarterback Trevon Barnes, who scored on a 31-yard quarterback keeper on a triple-option play. The Diamondbacks were unable to tie the game as their two-point conversion attempt was unsuccessful.
On Foothill’s ensuing possession, Diamondbacks’ middle linebacker Kyle Henry stuffed Arcangel on a Foothill 4-and-1 play to force a turnover on downs.
Desert Oasis junior running back Devin Fortenberry scored on a 37-yard touchdown three plays later to give the Diamondbacks their first lead of the game at 18-14. Desert Oasis failed to convert its two-point conversion attempt.
In the fourth quarter, Foothill drove 77 yards on its opening possession, capped by a Doxtator 4-yard touchdown run to give the Falcons a 21-18 lead.
But Foothill’s lead was short-lived as the Diamondbacks countered with a Fortenberry 35-yard touchdown run on their ensuing possession. Desert Oasis held a 24-21 lead after Howard missed another extra point.
Fortenberry rushed for 160 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries in the losing effort.
On Foothill’s final possession of the night, Doxtator methodically led the Falcons down the field to set up the game-winning score to Keplinger.
“We picked it up at the end when we had to,” Foothill coach Marty Redmond said. “It showed the character of our kids. They dug in and executed at the end when it counted.”
Foothill’s defense stopped Desert Oasis on 4-and-15 from its 35-yard line to secure the victory.
Foothill improved to 3-0 with the road victory while Desert Oasis dropped to 0-2.