The East Valley Knights wasted little time delivering its best shot Friday against Deer Park with two first quarter touchdowns.
It, however, was the Stags who delivered the knockout punch with a pair of fourth quarter touchdowns to secure a 42-25 win.
The victory improved the Stags’ Great Northern League record to 2-1 (5-1 overall), while East Valley fell to 1-1, 3-3.
“If we’re going to win the league title, we had to win this game,” said Stag head coach Keith Stamps, who saw his team lose a heartbreaker to Cheney the previous week.
East Valley, which controlled the game’s first 8 minutes, staggered Deer Park with a quick 12-0 lead.
“It was not the start I was looking for,” Stamps said.
The Stags climbed back into the game with a 60-yard drive that was capped off by a 37-yard run by Jason Jorgensen, his first of three in the game.
“Getting out of the first quarter close was huge,” Stamps explained.
Linebacker Dylan Miller said the defense didn’t panic despite falling behind so quickly and were all business the rest of the game.
Deer Park took its first lead of the game midway through the second quarter when the Stags’ Zach Mohr out-leaped an East Valley defender in the end zone to snatch an 18-yard pass from Colton Mead.
The pair teamed up 92 seconds later on a 65-yard touchdown pass that sent the Stags into the locker room with a 21-19 halftime lead.
The Knights cut the Stags lead to 28-25 with 5:52 left in the third quarter on a 14-yard run by Adam Talley.
Deer Park answered the touchdown with a 15-play drive that ate up more than 7 minutes on the clock. The 70-yard drive, which included three crucial third down conversions, ended with a 1-yard run by Mead.
The rest of the game belonged to the Stag defense, which held the Knights to only one first down in their next three possessions.
Jorgensen put the capper on the game with a 20-yard touchdown run with 2 minutes remaining.
Stamps said he challenged his offensive line this week to be able to run the football. The line did not let him down.
Deer Park finished with 197 yards rushing with Jorgensen leading the way with a game-high 154 yards rushing on 23 carries.
Mohr added 108 yards receiving on four catches.
Talley, who sat out the first quarter for unspecified reasons, led East Valley with 121 yards rushing on 13 carries.
Deer Park travels to West Valley (1-0, 3-3) at 7 p.m. on Friday. The Eagles are coming off a 21-6 win over Clarkston last week.