His uniform covered with dirt and sweat from a hard night of running and both ankles wrapped in ice, Beau Berryhill could finally smile after his Palm Desert Aztecs had their first varsity football victory of the year.
“It’s very important,” Berryhill said after Palm Desert scored a 42-14 win over the Indio Rajahs at Ed White Stadium in Indio. “Our team needed a win. We needed it.”
Despite a 1-5 overall record, the Aztecs are now 1-1 in Desert Valley League play and find themselves in contention for a CIF-SS playoff berth should they play well enough in their final four games.
Indio fell to 1-6 and 0-3 in the DVL with the home loss.
Berryhill’s big night was certainly part of the game plan for the Aztecs as they attempt to avoid the worst start of a season in school history.
“We established our running game right away, which we haven’t been able to do in most of our games,” Palm Desert head coach Pat Blackburn said. “That, of course, sets up our passing game, and we were able to connect on some nice scoring passes. And we have a few that were dropped also.”
By the end of the first quarter, Berryhill already had 78 yards on eight carries and two 1-yard touchdowns. Those scores were wrapped around a 34-yard interception return for a touchdown by defensive back Darian Lasarte, giving the Aztecs a 22-0 lead.
Indio plays Palm Desert at home in a DVL football game Friday evening, October 10, 2014.
Indio rallied a bit on a 75-yard scoring pass from Seth Morales to Christopher Abrille on the first play of the second quarter, but that was the only scoring for the rest of the half.
The teams swapped rapid-fire touchdowns in the third quarter, Berryhill picking up his third score on a 3-yard run, Indio countering 62 seconds later on a 31-yard scoring pass to running back Ryan Reyes, then Palm Desert scoring 61 seconds later on a 45-yard pass from Robbins to Will Kerrigan.
Another Robbins-to-Kerrigan touchdown pass of 20 yards on the final play of the third quarter wrapped up the scoring. In all, the Aztecs rolled up 456 offensive yards, while Indio had just 232. The Rajahs found themselves in good field position after several kickoff returns of 51 and 54 yards in the third quarter by Reyes.
“Our defense kind of bent a little, but it didn’t break,” Blackburn said.
For Berryhill, the big ground night was simply a matter of getting good blocks.
“Our O-line was coming together. We have the best O-line in the valley,” Berryhill said. “And we finally came together as a team and started doing work.”
With the first win of the season secured, Palm Desert can now focus on making a run for one of the DVL’s four playoff berths.
“We had a really good week of practice, and hopefully we have another one this week,” Blackburn said. “We can’t look ahead too far. We’ve just got to handle the task in front of us.”
The third quarter was interrupted by a brawl as the Aztecs were driving. After a Berryhill run at the 5-yard line, linemen on both sides started pushing and shoving and the exchanges became more heated with some players starting to edge off the sidelines and onto the field. In the end, three players were ejected from the game, Rubitzel Lezama and Jose Reyes of Indio and Jordan Saman of Palm Desert. Under league and CIF-SS rules, those players also will be suspended for their team’s next game.
Palm Desert hosts Cathedral City on Oct. 17; Indio will have the league bye.
Palm Desert 42, Indio 14
PD — Beau Berryhill 1 run (Berryhill run)
PD — Darian Lasarte 34 interception return (Denton Andersen kick)
PD — Berryhill 1 run (Andersen kick)
I –Christopher Abrille 75 pass from Seth Morales (kick failed)
PD — Berryhill 3 run (kick failed)
I — Ryan Reyes 31 pass from Morales (Reyes run)
PD — Will Kerrigan 45 pass from Seth Robbins (Andersen kick)
PD — Kerrigan 20 pass from Robbins (Andersen kick
RUSHING: Palm Desert — Beau Berryhill 30-239, Seth Robbins 5-57, Malcom Gibson 2-17, Trevor Hughes 6-16. Indio — Ryan Reyes 12-57. Miguel Fabian 6-51, Seth Morales 5-2, Juan Siquerios 1-2, Christopher Abrille 1-0
PASSING: Palm Desert — Seth Robbins 9-15-0-127. Indio — Set Morales 3-10-1-122
RECEIVING: Palm Desert — Will Kerrigan 3-60, Ryan Dresser 2-43, Derek Andersen 2-13, Brian Devlin 1-8, Beau Berryhill 1-3. Indio — Ryan Reyes 2-47. Chistopher Abrille 1-75.