prep football:

Interception return helps Arbor View win another close game with Desert Pines

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Steve Marcus

Arbor View head coach Matt Gerber talks with players following a 17-16 victory over Desert Pines during a playoff game at Arbor View High School Thursday, Oct. 28, 2021.

Thu, Oct 28, 2021 (11:35 p.m.)

Rarely does a high school football game live up to the hype and expectations of an anticipated showdown.

That’s certainly not the case when Arbor View and Desert Pines meet, and that seems to be a common occurrence the past five years despite the schools being geographically far apart.

Arbor View won the latest installment in the series 17-16 on Thursday in the first round of the class 5A Southern Regional playoffs, using a pair of goal-line stands to advance to face Liberty in next week’s semifinal.

“The game was everything everyone thought it would be, no doubt about that,” Arbor View coach Matt Gerber said.

The teams squared off early in the season with Arbor View winning on a two-point conversion in the final minute. This time, it was the Arbor View defense holding strong late by forcing Desert Pines to go three-and-out near midfield with about three minutes to play and only needing a handful of yards to attempt a potential game-winning field goal.

“The defense stepped up tonight when we needed them,” Gerber said.

Aiden Powell likely won the game for the Aggies late in the second quarter with a 99-yard interception return for a score for a 14-7 Arbor View lead. The score could have easily been reversed.

“Just a fun game to be part of. We’ve got a nice little rivalry with DP,” Gerber said. “Glad to be on the right side this time.”

Arbor View held a 17-14 lead in the fourth quarter when Desert Pines drove the ball to the Aggies’ 1-yard line. But Arbor View kept the Jaguars out of the endzone for a turnover on downs.

Arbor View allowed the safety a few plays later to trim the lead to 17-16, but it sure beat the alternative of falling behind.

“Just a great defensive stand,” Gerber said.

Desert Pines led 7-0 early, but Richard Washington had a short touchdown run to even the score at 7-7.

Arbor View advances to next week’s regional semifinals to face defending state champion Liberty.

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