By BRAD KEITH
WEATHERFORD (November 18, 2016) — Kevin Yeager passed for three touchdowns and Chris Cox rushed for two as De Leon (10-2) rolled to a 37-18 win over Valley View (6-6) in a Region II-2A Division I area playoff at Kangaroo Stadium Friday.
The Bearcats, area champions for the first time since 2013 and only the second time since their last state final appearance in 1990, scored in under a minute twice in the first half, when they built a 28-12 lead with four scoring possessions consuming a total of just 5 minutes, 33 seconds.
The quick-strike offense slowed down in the second half, but that’s when the De Leon defense took over the spotlight with a pair of fourth down stops including a Ray Amaya interception that basically sealed the victory with just more than nine minutes remaining, followed by a safety that put the icing on the cake with four minutes and change left.
The Bearcats advance to face Windthorst, a 36-34 winner over Bosqueville. De Leon head coach David Yeager said details with Windthorst were still being finalized following each team’s win Friday night.
“I know we get to practice on Thanksgiving, and there’s nothing better,” said Yeager. “We’ll get those other details worked out, right now we’re just happy to get a win against a good football team.”
Kevin Yeager launched touchdown passes of 33 yards to Cooper Dyson for a 7-0 lead, 22 yards to Orson Sylva for a 14-6 advantage and 44 yards to Daniel Sanchez to make it 21-12. That’s when Cox took over, rushing for a 53-yard score to provide the halftime tally of 28-12, and a five-yard TD set up by a Bray Tovar interception to open up a 35-12 margin in the third.
The defense, which also had a first half interception by Daniel Sanchez, added a safety in the fourth when Matthew Sones’ second sack came in the end zone. It was set up by a 38-yard Sanchez punt that backed up Valley View to its own 12, and a false start that moved the Eagles back to the seven.
Yeager was 12-27 through the air for 207 yards and also rushed 12 times for 67 yards. Cox amassed 150 rushing yards on just 10 carries. Even with a loss of 24 yards on four team rushes – two fumbled shotgun snaps and two kneel downs to finish the game – De Leon also rushed for 207 yards, perfectly balancing its 414 yards of offense. The Bearcats scored at least 35 points in each of its six straight wins and have scored less than 30 in just one completed game all season.
“We take what the defense gives us, and tonight we did a good job of that offensively, especially when we were able to put trips to one side of the field and come back with the weak side option,” said Coach Yeager. “That’s where you saw Chris and Kevin get a lot of their yards on the ground. Our offensive line did a great job and we were balanced, which makes anyone tough to defend.”
The Bearcat defense may have been even better in limiting a Valley View to 263 yards of total offense including just 61 on the ground one week after the Eagles amassed 68 points in a bi-district win over Chico.
“Our defense was great, we kept pressure on their quarterback and made the big plays when we needed them,” said David Yeager. “They have a good offense, so I’m really proud of the kids for the way they prepared and then came out here and executed against a good football team.”
TheFlashToday.com photos by RUSSELL HUFFMAN