Steve Lewis/Durango Herald
It’s as simple a football idiom as any – whoever wins the turnover battle wins the football game.
Durango High School recovered six Farmington fumbles, the last of which led to Tyler Worley’s game-winning 8-yard touchdown run in the Demons’ rollercoaster 35-28 victory over the Scorpions on Friday at DHS Stadium.
Turnovers were the story of the evening. Farmington (2-2) coughed it up six times, while Durango had three lost fumbles and an interception. Difference was that after two of its turnovers, DHS (2-2) responded on the very next play by taking the ball right back, allowing no points.
“It’s fun to coach a game like that, but yeah, it’s a little nerve-wracking,” DHS head coach Greg Wyatt said, laughing.
Worley was the alpha and omega of the Durango offense Friday. He ran for 208 yards on 29 carries and four touchdowns, and he caught a pass for a game-tying two-point conversion in the third quarter. His success came from a combination of solid offensive line play and his ability to read blocks and find holes, even if they weren’t exactly where they were drawn up.
“I mean our line did a really great job. Game plan was just to run it up and down on them, and we definitely did a great job doing that,” said Worley, son of Crystal Coffey and Noah Worley.
The Durango defense rebounded nicely after a rough outing against Piedra Vista, forcing five of the six fumbles and allowing just 253 total yards, 83 of which came on one play.
“Of their six, I think ... five of them were forced. ... That’s just good team defense when you can stand the guy up, strip the ball and have guys around it to recover,” Wyatt said.
With the game tied at 28 and 4:15 left to play, Farmington running back Essiel Carrasco fumbled for the second consecutive possession, and this time, DHS made the Scorpions pay. Worley carried on four of the six plays on a six-play, 37-yard drive, capped by his 8-yard scamper to paydirt with 2:54 to go.
“Felt great. Felt awesome,” Worley said of the winning score. “Got to make a play at that moment.”
Still, Farmington got the ball back with 2:47 to go and two timeouts, but another one of Friday’s bugaboos reared its ugly head again at the wrong time. On first down from the Farmington 45, Scorpions quarterback Jacob Lucas watched the ball sail over his head on the snap for a 24-yard loss.
DHS held on the next three downs before taking a knee to wrap the win.
Durango seemingly had the momentum going into halftime, but an 82-yard punt return for a touchdown by Farmington’s Kyle Reynolds with 37 seconds to go in the second quarter put Farmington up 14-13.
DHS then drove to the Farmington 19 before Jeremy Szura threw an interception to Bobby Shuttleworth.
Durango got new life when Lucas fumbled on the next play, which Worley recovered, but DHS couldn’t put points on the board before half.
Lucas started the second half by finding Reynolds for a 32-yard touchdown pass to push the lead to 21-13. But a bad snap would be Farmington’s undoing on the first series of the fourth quarter, as Lucas couldn’t corral the loose ball in his own end zone, and Gabe Gilleland fell on it for the touchdown. Szura’s pass to Worley for two points evened things at 21.
Worley gave a bit back to Farmington with 8:06 to go, when Carrasco scooped up his fumble and rumbled 28 yards for a touchdown and a 28-21 lead. DHS responded with a 19-yard touchdown run by – who else? – Worley after a long kickoff return by Jalon Malone set Durango up at the Farmington 34.
Worley had touchdown runs of 2 and 6 yards in the first half, and Szura completed 8 of 15 passes for 116 yards, 50 of them to tight end Lane Joseph.
Farmington got a 7-yard scoring run from Austin Foutz and the Reynolds punt return in the first half, but the Scorpions also turned the ball over on a play that began on the Durango 2, costing them a potentially critical score.
Shuttleworth led Farmington with 116 yards rushing, while Carrasco had 62 on the ground.
For Durango, with state-ranked Palisade up next, Friday’s victory was a much-needed shot in the arm.
“I think it gave us a lot of momentum going in,” Worley said. “Palisade’s going to be a tough opponent, but homecoming weekend, we usually play good, and we’ve got a lot of tradition going on.”