Late-game heroics in a downpour lift Desert Hot Springs to win over Perris


Heavy rain fell throughout Desert Hot Springs’ 35-27 win over Perris on Friday, Sept. 1, 2023 at Desert Hot Springs High School.

With the score tied and fewer than 30 seconds to play Friday evening at Desert Hot Springs High School, coaches at Perris High informed referees that they did not want to play overtime. They would instead prefer to settle for a tie.

Word got back to Desert Hot Springs coaches and they, in turn, told star running back Christian Davis to go win the game by returning the ensuing kickoff to the end zone. Davis quietly took the field with his teammates and did exactly as his coaches had instructed.

His 87-yard kickoff return for a touchdown with 22 seconds remaining broke the tie and sealed the Golden Eagles’ 35-27 win over Perris, igniting the kind of pandemonium that has not been experienced on the football field at the school in several years.

“My eyes were on the end zone,” Davis said. “That’s all I could see, so I just followed my blocks and ran.”

With the field still soaked by hours of steady rain, teammates mobbed Davis, who also rushed for 176 yards and four additional touchdowns. Coaches took turns embracing him. Even some of the school’s administrators celebrated on the team’s sideline.

Moments earlier, the home crowd and the Desert Hot Springs sideline was silent after Perris scored on a 46-yard touchdown pass on fourth down to tie the game.

Then, the emotion of the game took yet another turn when Davis surged up the field on the very next play.

“Hollywood couldn’t write a better script,” Golden Eagles head coach Roy Provost said after it was all over.

Desert Hot Springs head coach Roy Provost speaks to his team after its 35-27 win over Perris on Friday, Sept. 1, 2023 at Desert Hot Springs High School.

Desert Hot Springs head coach Roy Provost speaks to his team after its 35-27 win over Perris on Friday, Sept. 1, 2023 at Desert Hot Springs High School.

But the win, which gave Desert Hot Springs a 3-0 start for the first time since 2015, wasn’t just about Davis and his late-game heroics. No, it was just as much about a team that never gave up despite given several opportunities to do so.

Provost said that most teams would have at some point during what may have been the game of the year so far in the Coachella Valley.

“We knew that this game was going to be a fight,” Provost said. “I’m glad they brought it. We did, too.”

Desert Hot Springs took the field for the second half holding a 14-6 lead. But the Panthers took the kickoff to open the half and marched down the field for a touchdown to cut the deficit to 14-12.

Davis scored his third touchdown early in the fourth quarter to give Desert Hot Springs a 21-12 lead, and it looked as though it would take a miracle for Perris to forge a comeback with just 8:42 remaining in the game.

But on the kickoff return following the Golden Eagles’ touchdown, Perris raced down the field to set up another touchdown to again cut the deficit. This time it was 21-20, with Desert Hot Springs clinging to the tightest of margins.

The public address announced narrated the action appropriately, telling those in attendance, “No matter what happens, you got your money’s worth tonight.”

Davis then scored his fourth touchdown of the game, but the two-point conversion attempt failed, giving Perris a chance.

Christian Davis of Desert Hot Springs High School.

Christian Davis of Desert Hot Springs High School.

On the following drive, with under a minute to play and with starting quarterback Ryan Arredondo sidelined with an injury, backup Omarie Wilcox flung the ball half the distance of the field to teammate Mike Lawson. The pass was tipped by two Desert Hot Springs players before it landed in Lawson’s hands for the touchdown that tied the score at 27.

The rest of the game is the stuff of high school football legends.

“This team, we worked very hard to get here,” said Golden Eagles free safety Jordan Glaspie, who intercepted a pass and knocked down three others. “We’ve got two weeks until Indio and we’ll be back at it, working toward that game tomorrow.”

2015

The last time the Golden Eagles were 3-0, LeBron James had not yet won an NBA title in Cleveland, Tom Brady was still five years from taking his first snap in a Buccaneers uniform and the NHL’s Seattle Kraken franchise hadn’t been introduced yet.

The No. 1 movie at the box office was The Perfect Guy and the No. 1 song on the Billboard 100 was “I Can’t Feel My Face” by The Weeknd.

Since then, Desert Hot Springs has not had a winning season and has not won more than three games in a season.

“It’s exciting for us,” Desert Hot Springs High athletics director Kai Lyles said. “Exciting for not just the school but our entire community. I think it’s really bringing us together.”

The stars

In addition to Davis, who also caught two passes for 29 yards, several other players played a starring role Friday for Desert Hot Springs.

Glaspie made several big plays in the defensive backfield, and his brother, Joel Glaspie, also recorded an interception.

Linebacker Jaire Broach made three tackles behind the line of scrimmage and caught an 18-yard pass from quarterback Messiah Smith on a key third down conversion in the fourth quarter.

For Perris, Arredondo and starting running back Kamari House combined for 149 yards and three touchdowns rushing.

By the numbers

Desert Hot Springs recorded 256 total yards on 49 offensive plays. The Golden Eagles held Perris to just 247 yards on 71 offensive plays.

The Golden Eagles won the turnover battle, 3-2.

The takeaway

Desert Hot Springs being 3-0 is no fluke. This team could win the Desert Valley League this season. Seriously.

Having already watched Coachella Valley, Indio and Yucca Valley this season, I would say the Golden Eagles have the best defense of those four teams. That’s really saying something, because all three have been very good defensively at times dating back to last season. With Davis and a solid offensive line, they also have the ability to score points.

They also committed just three penalties Friday, compared to 10 by Perris, so they are disciplined. DVL teams should be taking Desert Hot Springs very seriously.

Up next

Desert Hot Springs will be on a bye next week before opening DVL play at Indio on Thursday, Sept. 14.

Andrew John covers sports for The Desert Sun and the USA TODAY Network. Email him at andrew.john@desertsun.com.

This article originally appeared on Palm Springs Desert Sun: ‘Hollywood couldn’t write a better script’: Desert Hot Springs claims dramatic win over Perris





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