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Durango football gives Aztec its first loss

Demons score four second-quarter touchdowns in 41-7 romp
Jaxon Fancher of Durango High School breaks down the field while playing Aztec High School on Thursday at DHS. Fancher ran for 143 yards and two touchdowns in Durango’s 41-7 win. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

The Durango High School football teams scored four second-quarter touchdowns while picking off a pair of passes in the frame to turn a close game into a commanding 41-7 win over Aztec High School on Thursday at DHS.

The Demons improved to 2-1 overall with the win while Aztec slipped to 3-1 after suffering its first setback of the year.

“We were good,” said DHS head coach Matt Burton. “They came out and threw some wrinkles at us defensively, but we found a way to adapt and start moving the ball.”

DHS quarterback Tyler Harms unofficially ran the ball seven times for 95 yards and two touchdowns while also completing 12 of 19 passes for 196 yards and another two touchdowns. Seb Tripp caught three passes for 89 yards, including a 53-yard touchdown. Julian Rodriguez made four catches for 16 yards, including a 5-yard touchdown and Peyton Dike caught four balls for 69 yards.

Jaxon Fancher carried the ball 17 times for 143 yards and two touchdowns, including a 39-yard score for DHS.

“It’s great,” Harms said about the offense’s balance. “We have a lot of young, fast receivers and Fancher is great; he’s so hard to bring down.”

Baylor Seabolt rushed 21 times for 136 yards and one touchdown for Aztec, but 86 of his yards and his score came after Durango enacted the running clock in the third quarter.

“A win is always nice, but we have a lot to clean up,” Harms said. “We had some lack of focus. If we’re ahead, we can’t let down.”

The Demons drove 70 yards in 11 plays on their opening drive, with three third-down conversions, and took a 7-0 lead after Harms scored on a 1-yard run.

Seabolt picked up a first down with a 15-yard carry for Aztec on the ensuing drive and he didn’t go down without a fight all night.

“We kept hitting him and hitting him and he kept going,” Burton said, but added his defenders swarming to the ball helped contain him.

On fourth-and-one Aztec went for it, but Seabolt had to field a high snap and Brett Hamer tackled him for a nine-yard loss to force a turnover on downs at Durango’s 36.

Harms completed a 28-yard pass to Tripp to start the next drive, but DHS eventually turned the ball over on downs at Aztec’s 24.

Seabolt picked up another first down for Aztec with a seven-yard run. Mason Palmer, however, made a tackle for a loss on a screen pass to back Aztec up and the Tigers eventually punted on the first play of the second quarter.

DHS doubled its lead a couple plays later when Tripp got behind his defender and Harms hit him in stride for a 53-yard touchdown. Dylan Burns’ kick made it 14-0.

After both teams were forced to punt, Malakai Baier intercepted a pass for Durango just outside of Aztec’s red zone and the Demons started to pull away.

A pair of holding calls wiped away about 40 rushing yards for Harms, but he completed a 22-yard pass to Louden Grimes and then a 5-yard touchdown pass to Rodriguez.

Aztec started its next drive with a sweep, but Ryan Dugan pulled Jayden Godbay down for a 2-yard loss and Aztec went three and out.

On Durango’s next play, Fancher sprinted through Aztec’s defense for a 39-yard touchdown that put DHS up 28-0.

Aztec moved the ball a little on its next drive and quarterback Landan Frost hit Kale Watson for eight yards to pick up a first down. Dugan, however, intercepted a Frost pass to end the threat.

The Tigers almost came up with a stop on Durango’s next drive. The Demons lined up to punt on fourth-and-four at midfield, but faked it and Fancher pulled the snap down and ran 14 yards to keep the drive alive. A few plays later, Harms tucked the ball and ran it 26 yards into the end zone to give DHS a 35-0 halftime lead.

“I felt good,” Harms said. “The line is great. The give me time and a nice pocket, and if it’s not open, I’m able to run.”

Aztec picked up one first down on the opening drive of the second half, but Jacob Neubert made a tackle in the backfield to force a third-and-long and the Tigers had to punt.

The Demons then scored their final touchdown with 7:21 remaining in the third quarter to enact the running clock. Harms completed a 38-yard pass to Dike to get to Aztec’s seven. Fancher then ran it twice and scored with a two-yard run to put DHS up 41-0.

Seabolt continued running hard for Aztec and broke free for 20 yards. The Demons forced Aztec to punt, but the kick bounced, hit a Demon and AHS recovered the fumble at Durango’s 20.

Seabolt ran 13 yards and then seven yards for a touchdown with 10 seconds left in the third.

Both teams’ next drives ended with fumbles and DHS eventually ended the game with a knee.

DHS will next host Grand Junction Central at 7 p.m. on Friday (Sept. 15) before hitting the road for three games at Mead, Summit and Glenwood Springs. Central beat Grand Junction 21-13 on Thursday to improve to 2-1.

“I’m pleased with our coaching staff and how their able to adapt midgame,” Burton said. “We’ve got to continue to improve our execution and find a way to start faster.”

Aztec will next host Silver (2-1) at 1 p.m. on Sept. 16.