ROY — If anyone learned anything about Region 1 football through the first three region games, it’s that there’s no such thing as a knockout punch and the game isn’t over until the clock hits zero.
But Davis junior running back Spencer Ferguson can attest to landing a true knockout punch.
Ferguson, who slotted into the starting running back spot after halftime, rushed for a 60-yard touchdown to put the Darts ahead 34-20 at Roy with 2:17 left in the game.
A fumble recovery by Davis on the ensuing Roy kick return was essentially like tossing the key into the river.
The Darts (4-2, 4-0 Region 1) stand atop Region 1 by themselves following a 34-20 win over the Royals (3-3, 2-2 Region 1) on Friday, and due to Syracuse’s loss to Fremont.
A team that came into the season with five total returning starters and a new defensive coordinator has now reeled off four straight region wins after a rough 0-2 start.
“It’s just a next-man-up mentality with us, that’s always what we do,” said Ferguson, who rushed 12 times for 101 yards. “(The win) gives us a ton of confidence.”
The Darts’ defense entered Friday’s matchup allowing 11.6 points per game (the best mark in the region), 3.2 yards per rush, 166 passing yards per game and averaging 2.2 defensive takeaways per game.
Friday’s stats: 20 points allowed, 3.5 yards per rush allowed and 281 passing yards allowed — but, with three takeaways.
“Just seeing the kids coming together and mature as a team and as a group, the senior leaders stepping up, it’s been a lot of fun,” head coach Mitch Arquette said.
After Cade Harris caught an 11-yard TD pass from Jaxson Dart early in the second quarter to make it a 6-6 game, Davis stopped Roy on fourth down at the Darts’ 22-yard line with 2:17 left in the half.
Davis went into a hurry-up mode and scored a touchdown on a 6-play, 78-yard drive that took a minute-and-a-half to go ahead 13-6.
Quarterback Chance Trujillo completed passes to Peter Stevenson on back-to-back plays of 26 and 24 yards.
Stevenson, who kicked two field goals of 19 and 43 yards in the first quarter, finished the drive with a diving 15-yard touchdown catch in the corner of the end zone.
If that was the jab, the next series was a right cross. Davis recovered a fumble on the ensuing Roy kickoff return.
Three plays later, Mason Kilgore made a juggling, bobbling circus catch with a defender draped all over him for a 9-yard touchdown that put the Darts ahead 20-6 at halftime.
Nobody on Roy’s side was worried after comeback wins against Fremont and Layton earlier this year.
The Royals gambled and recovered an onside kick to start the second half, scoring three plays later on Dillan Thoms’ 23-yard TD run to cut the lead to 20-13.
Pressure ramped up on the Darts, who were stopped on their next drive. Stevenson’s ensuing punt, though, was downed at the Roy 6 and the defense forced a Roy punt, which didn’t go past midfield.
Davis took advantage of the short field. Trujillo scrambled and sidearmed an 8-yard TD pass to Stevenson to restore the 14-point lead, something Stevenson called a “huge momentum builder.”
Trujillo made all the right moves while under pressure: scrambling for short gains, lobbing passes to open receivers on the sideline, not trying to win the state championship on a random second down.
Roy’s Mason Thueson dove — with a defender committing pass interference at the same time — to catch a 23-yard TD pass and cut the lead to 27-20.
Ferguson and the offensive line had everything under control afterward and helped Davis ease into the win.