Saturday, Nov. 12, 2016 | 4:57 p.m.
Las Vegas Sun sports editors Ray Brewer and Case Keefer do their best resorting to and running from football cliches, respectively, to preview this week's playoff action.
Desert Pines’ sophomore quarterback Tyler Williamson made his first-ever start at the varsity level Saturday afternoon in the 3A state semifinal.
Someone forgot to tell Williamson, as he torched South Tahoe with four touchdowns and led the Jaguars to a 56-7 blowout win to move on to the state championship game.
“He’s great, but he honestly surprised me,” said receiver and linebacker Tony Fields. “He’s really athletic and a big-time player.”
Late in the second half, Williamson appeared to get swallowed up by a collapsing pocket, only to spin out and find Randal Grimes for a spectacular 50-yard touchdown pass.
Williamson then capped off the opening drive of the second half by diving over a defender into the end zone for the score.
“It’s a big factor for our offense because he’s another weapon,” Grimes said. “He can throw the ball and run the ball, so he’s a little like Lamar Jackson.”
Williamson finished the game completing 10 of 13 passes for 199 yards and three touchdowns, while running for another score.
“I was nervous, but I knew I had to come out here and contribute for the team, and we pulled out the win,” he said.
With the win, Desert Pines will play in its second state championship game in three years, against Spring Creek on Nov. 19 at Bishop Gorman.
Spring Creek took out Chaparral 36-7 in the other semifinal.
Grimes, who is committed to USC as a receiver but has been playing quarterback most of the year since Marckell Grayson was lost for the year with an injury, finally got to play his favorite position.
“I know when South Tahoe saw Randall at receiver they were like, ‘Oh my gosh,'” Fields said. “They jumped on Randall more in the first half and left me wide open. Then once they jumped on me they left him. It’s hard to cover that, I don’t know what you can do.”
Grimes caught four passes for 92 yards and a touchdown, and Fields finished with 27 yards and a score.
It didn’t start off easy for the Jaguars, who were locked 7-7 after one quarter with South Tahoe.
But Desert Pines then exploded for five touchdowns in less than eight minutes to lead 42-7 at halftime.
South Tahoe quarterback Tommy Cefalu completed six of his first 11 passes for 55 yards, but Desert Pines adjusted. Cefalu finished the game with 10 straight passes without an incompletion — three of which were intercepted.
“Our defense is super athletic,” coach Tico Rodriguez said. “We’re big, we’re fast and we are well-coached. They are a special unit.”
Defensive tackle Monquel Glasow grabbed an interception at the line of scrimmage and rumbled 55 yards for a score in the second quarter. Tony Wallace followed it up with a 30-yard interception return for a touchdown near the end of the first half.
“Our motto on defense is to score,” Fields said. “We don’t want to just get a stop every time; we want to get takeaways and score. Today we finally produced and did what we needed to do.”
Desert Pines held South Tahoe to only nine yards rushing, and outgained the Vikings 372-118.
The always-reliable Isaiah Morris racked up 148 yards and two touchdowns rushing in the first half before resting in the second.
The Jaguars will take on Spring Creek for the 3A state crown at Bishop Gorman's Fertitta Field on Nov. 19 at 1 p.m.
Desert Pines squandered a 22-point fourth-quarter lead and lost in overtime to Moapa Valley on the same field in the 2014 state championship. Many of the same players remain on this year’s squad and are determined to finish the job.
“We are going to finish it this year for sure,” Fields said. “I will make sure of it.”