Until he went down with an injury, Parker Rasmussen made sure Desert Ridge took a serious step toward the postseason on Friday.
“This was a big win for us, gives us a nice run for the playoffs,” said wide receiver and backup quarterback Jordan Becerra after the Jaguars’ 44-0 win Friday over Westwood in 5A-I East Valley Region play.
Becerra was pressed into service after Rasmussen hurt his left knee on a sack early in the third quarter and his team leading 24-0.
Jaguars coach Jeremy Hathcock said he hoped it was just a sprain but knows it could be ligament damage, which would be a knockout punch.
With a week left in the regular season, the Jaguars (6-3, 4-1 East Valley) gave themselves some breathing room in clinching a playoff spot. Desert Ridge came into the game 13th in power points while the Warriors (5-5, 2-4) were 12th. Westwood likely needs a win over Gilbert in the season finale to qualify while Desert Ridge faces Perry next week.
“We pulled out all the stops tonight,” Hathcock said. “We had to have it. We weren’t going to leave it to second chance. Perry is a heck of a team and so is Westwood.”
For Rasmussen, the future is in question after he spent the rest of the night with ice on the knee, sitting on the training table on the track. But he did enough damage in the first half.
He ran the no-huddle, spread offense well and after a short lull, just about put the Warriors away by halftime.
“Parker came out hot,” said Becerra. “He was throwing the ball, making good reads, making good passes. We just came out hot, that’s what we needed.”
Rasmussen had 178 yards passing and 47 yards rushing by the break and had run for a score and thrown for another.
“It hurts,” Becerra said of losing Rasmussen, “because he is our great quarterback. But we have to step up. Adversity hits, we have to overcome adversity.”
Becerra, who would likely run more option, took over after Rasmussen’s injury and threw two interceptions. But he did help kill the clock and got some help from his defense, which returned a fumble and an interception for scores late.
Rasmussen marched the Jaguars down the field on the opening drive -- keeping the ball on four of five plays -- and needed just one minute, 38 seconds to get on the scoreboard. But the Desert Ridge offense sputtered after that. Late in the first, Rasmussen ran inside the Warrior 10 but fumbled to end that drive.
When the Jaguars stopped Westwood at midfield early in the second quarter, Rasmussen hit Jordan Becerra on a pretty 38-yard sideline pattern and Joey Counts ran for 4 yards and then 8 yards into the end zone. Kicker Danny Berzins followed with a pooch/onside kick that Counts recovered at the Westwood 37. Berzins ended up kicking a 40-yard field goal but Desert Ridge had all the momentum.
Westwood was held to 57 yards rushing in the first half, 34 of that from Billy Sueing. Juan Zazueta did drive the Warriors into the red zone late in the half but came up short on a fourth-and-12 pass play at the Desert Ridge 17.