Each year when inner-district rivals Canyon Del Oro and Ironwood Ridge face off, the stands are packed, expectations are high and the energy level couldn’t be higher.

Canyon Del Oro came into the Sept. 12 game in better standing than last season’s 0-3 start, at 2-0. Ironwood Ridge, the reigning state champions, is picking up where they left off last season despite losing so many starters, sitting at 3-1.

Ironwood Ridge worked throughout the night to control the line of scrimmage, and just like last year, has a strong running attack aimed at wearing down defenses.

After taking a 14-7 lead near the end of the first half, the Nighthawks got the ball back just before halftime. With just over 2:29 left in the half, the Nighthawks started the drive at their own 38-yard line. Putting together seven quick plays, Dylan Key finished the drive from 4 yards out, giving the Nighthawks even more momentum with 31.1 seconds left in the second quarter.

CDO wanted to gain some momentum through the air, but no timeouts and little time proved to be a problem. The Dorados had an opportunity when quarterback Jordan Cross-Lopez connected Jonathan Metz who carried the ball downfield, but was tackled short of the goal line as time expired.

In the second half, the Dorados had several opportunities, but a lot of dropped balls by the receiving core caused problems, along with several turnovers.

In the second half, Ironwood Ridge kept to the game plan, rushing behind lead tailback Jake Vartanian, who finished the game with 165 yards on 22 carries.

Vartanian scored from 5 yards out at the beginning of the third quarter, putting the Nighthawks up 28-7.

After another Nighthawks’ touchdown, the Dorados got on the board when Metz brought down a pass from Lopez for a 28-yard touchdown with 11:28 left to play in the game.

The Nighthawks would tack on another touchdown before the end of the game, to win the annual contest 42-14.

With the Nighthawks’ only loss of the season coming to Apollo, they will look to improve to 4-1 on Friday when they host Buena.

For the Dorados’, the 2-1 team will look to get back on track as they will travel to Vail to take on the struggling Cienega Bobcats on Friday.

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