By Dave Tomczak
HOLTON – Hesperia running back Logan Pearson missed practice earlier this week, staying home with a stomach virus.
“I told the (offensive) line if they get the blocks, I’ll get the yards,” Pearson said. “I guess we got it done.”
Hesperia picked up its first win of the year, improving to 1-2 overall and 1-0 in in the conference.
Holton is still looking for its first win, falling to 0-3 and 0-1.
The Panthers spoiled the Red Devils’ homecoming game early. It started on Pearson’s first carry on the first Hesperia possession, when he broke loose for a 46-yard gain.
Two plays later, Brandon Quinn scored on a 3-yard run with 9:48 left in the opening quarter, and Pearson ran in the 2-point conversion for an 8-0 lead.
After the teams exchanged turnovers, Hesperia went up 14-0 on Johnny Majersky’s 4-yard TD run with 5:05 left in the first.
After struggling in the running game, Holton went to the air and cut the lead to 14-6 when Drew Trygstad found Aiden Poling from 28 yards out to end the opening quarter.
The Panthers took a 22-6 halftime lead when Pearson scored from 43 yards out and ran in the conversion with 6:02 left in the second quarter.
Trygstad found Poling for a 33-yard touchdown strike on the opening drive of the third quarter, cutting the Hesperia lead to 22-14.
But on the ensuing drive, Pearson scored from 32 yards out, and got the conversion, giving Hesperia a 30-14 advantage.
“I’m so happy for that kid,” Hesperia coach Doug Bolles said of Pearson. “He missed most of last year with concussions, and he missed practice earlier this week, sick and throwing up. But he came back and sweated it out. He does anything we need.”
Holton’s final chance to pull close stalled at the Hesperia 2-yard line with four minutes left in the third. After three running plays didn’t move the ball, Trygstad’s pass to the back of the end zone fell incomplete, and the ball went to the Panthers on downs.
Pearson took the very next handoff 72 yards into Holton territory. Four plays later, Quinn scored on a 10-yard run, giving the Panthers a 38-14 lead with 1:50 left in the third quarter.
“If we scored there, it’s a one-score game and we feel pretty good about ourselves,” Holton coach Mike Jados said about the missed opportunity. “We just struggled tonight.”
Pearson (17 yards) and Logan Balkema (43) added fourth quarter scores for the Panthers.
Hesperia finished the game with 491 total yards, all on the ground. Holton finished with 238 total yards, led by Trygstad, who completed 12-of-25 passes for 217 yards.