High school football
Sunnyside capitalizes on late turnover to beat Pueblo once again
Joey Hernandez knew what was at stake and there was no way he was going to let it get away. Not a chance.
The Sunnyside senior running back scored a late touchdown on Friday night to lift the Blue Devils to a 10-6 win over South Side rival Pueblo as first-year coach Roy Lopez made his home debut.
“It’s awesome; I can’t explain to you,” said Lopez, who spent 20 years at Tempe Marcos de Niza and led it to a state runner-up finish in 2009. “The kids busted their butts; it’s really neat to see them overcome adversity and be successful.”
Hernandez and Lopez embraced near midfield as time expired, marking the end of what almost turned out to be a nightmare for Sunnyside.
Pueblo was in position to beat the Blue Devils for the first time since 1992 – six years before Hernandez and his fellow seniors were born. But a bad snap on a punt attempt set up the go-ahead touchdown with less than three minutes to play and Sunnyside held on to beat Pueblo for the 13th straight meeting.
“We knew what we were coming into, we knew the importance of this game,” Hernandez said. “Our coaches stressed it, our families stressed it, our whole community stressed it that we don’t lose to Pueblo.”
Friday’s showdown marked the first meeting between Pueblo and Sunnyside since 2012. The Blue Devils now hold a 25-3 advantage in the series, which began in 1973.
Desert View is Sunnyside’s district rival but Hernandez puts Pueblo right in the same category because of its proximity.
“We all know each other and we see each other all the time,” Hernandez said. “We see each other at the supermarket, we see each other at restaurants.”
Thanks to Sunnyside’s late rally, Hernandez and his teammates don’t have to worry about being ridiculed over a loss to the Warriors. Also, the Blue Devils avoided falling into an 0-2 hole coming off a season-opening loss at Nogales last week.
Sunnyside (1-1) pulled ahead 3-0 early in the second quarter thanks to a 25-yard field goal by Brian Chumacera. That score held until Pueblo went ahead 6-3 in the third quarter when William Bertsch plunged into the end zone for a 1-yard touchdown, three plays after Sunnyside fumbled inside its own 10.
Just when it looked like the Blue Devils were about to regain the lead, Pueblo’s Angel Faras hauled in an interception in the end zone with 4:16 left in the third.
Neither offense could put together much from there, until Faras hauled in another interception with 8:00 left in the fourth quarter. That paved the way for the Warriors to begin running out the clock.
Sunnyside came up with a stop inside of 3 minutes to play, forcing Pueblo to send its punting unit on the field. But rather than trying to pin the opposition deep, a bad snap gave Sunnyside the ball on the Pueblo 15. One play later, Hernandez cut to his left and sprinted to the end zone to put the Blue Devils ahead for good.
“All we needed to do was punt the ball and it would have been over,” Pueblo coach Brandon Sanders said. “When you’re that close to being able to seal the game and everybody on defense is doing the type of things they did, it’s a tough deal.”