Friday, Aug. 26, 2016 | 11:59 p.m.
Desert Pines’ roster is overflowing with Division I talent, from quarterback to running back and everywhere on defense.
Friday night against Division 4A power Centennial, the game came down to a kicker playing in his first-ever varsity football game.
With the score tied 41-41 and only 1:30 to play, the Jaguars faced a fourth and goal from the Bulldogs’ six yard line.
Coach Tico Rodriguez, who is renowned for going for two on point-after attempts, walked over to Turner Klingenmeier.
“I asked Turner and he told me, ‘Coach I got you. Just give me a chance,’” Rodriguez said. “I got that feeling and saw that confidence in him, and he knocked it right through the uprights.”
Klingenmeier’s 25-yard field goal put the Jaguars up for good, 44-41, in a back-and-forth game that had more than 1,000 yards of total offense.
“It felt amazing,” Klingenmeier said. “Coming from a great team like this, having confidence in me, it feels great.”
On the play that set up the game-winning kick, Desert Pines’ all-city quarterback Marckell Grayson was an out-of-bounds tackle severely injured his left knee.
“It had a part in the decision,” Rodriguez said. “When you lose your three-year starting quarterback and you have to play a backup and you’re on the 6-yard line. I just wanted to take a chance with the field goal and I believed Turner would make it.”
The UNLV commit was carted off the field and will have an MRI Monday to determine the extent of the damage.
Grayson led the Jaguars down the field throughout the game, tossing for 217 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.
Running back Isaiah Morris stole the show with dazzling touchdown runs of 59 and 48 yards. The senior slashed through the Bulldogs' front seven to the tune of 217 yards and two touchdowns on only 18 carries.
“Isaiah Morris is a special football player,” Rodriguez said. “You put the ball in his hands with space and he’s going to make things happen. He’s our guy and we ride with him.”
DeAundre Newsome caught six passes for 74 yards and a score, and Jordan Simon caught a 37-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter.
In a losing effort, Centennial quarterback Jamaal Evans torched the Jaguars’ secondary on his way to an exceptional performance.
Evans, a Utah State commit, completed 21-of-30 passes for 343 yards and three touchdowns, while also running for 70 yards and two more scores on the ground.
But on the game’s final drive, needing a field goal to tie it up, Evans was dropped for a huge sack by Tony Fields.
“Our coach brought me in and told me I have to talk to the guys,” Fields said. “I told them that that down would be the most crucial down of the game. We got a little emotional right when he said hike. I ended up getting the sack and call it a game.”
Fields also led the team with 86 receiving yards and a touchdown.
The game was a rare nail-biter for the Jaguars, who won by more than 30 points on eight occasions last season.
“When you blow teams out you don’t really get anything out of it and this was a good test for us. I think we are going to grow as a team with this tough game,” Rodriguez said. “It’s so essential for our kids to go through the deep waters and to rally when they’re down and build the toughness.”
While the Panthers await Marckell’s return at quarterback, Rodriguez said Randel Grimes — who is currently committed to USC as a receiver — will take over quarterback duties.
“It’s probably going to be Randal, and he can get the job done,” Rodriguez said. “It’s definitely a different dynamic. He’s kind of a Cam Newton type but he knows the offense. Randal will step in and he will carry the team until Marckell gets back.”