Thursday night’s big game between Virgin Valley High School and Moapa Valley for the Nevada State 3A Championship became a game of halves, as the Bulldogs controlled the first half’s momentum for most of the period before the Pirates scored with seconds remaining to cut the Dawgs lead to 14-7. The Pirates were able to take that momentum into the second half by scoring the last 20 points of the game.
The Bulldogs shocked the huge contingent of fans from both valleys by scoring on the very first offensive play of the game. Bulldog quarterback Gavin Brown hit wide out Jim Kelley in the right flat with Kelley battling Pirates along the sideline for 68 yards and a Bulldog touchdown. Bulldog kicker Edgar Perez;s point after sailed through giving the Dawgs a 7-0 advantage 21 seconds into the game. The momentum stayed with the Dawgs as Bulldog Cameron Perkins intercepted the Pirates first pass of the game giving the Dawgs a first and ten from their 35 yard line. “Cameron Perkins had a great defensive game,” said Bulldog coach Matt Woods. “Perkins not only intercepted but caused and interception and recovered a fumble.” The Bulldogs could not take advantage of the turnover and punted on fourth down and one. The Pirates started their next drive on their 15 yard line. A Pirate pass for 27 yards plus five on the ground and another pass for 15 set up a first and ten in Bulldog territory. Bulldog Ethan Workman broke through on the Pirate’s next pass attempt forcing a fumble recovered by Perkins. The Dawgs possession began on the 48 yard line and stopped on the Pirates five yard line as time expired ending the first period of play. The big play of the drive was a 30 yard bomb to Ashton Roman.
The second began with the Pirates defense keeping the Dawgs offense out of the end zone. Two long passes from the Pirates set up a first down deep in Bulldog territory. The Dawgs stiffened stopping the Pirates Q.B. on a keeper giving the ball back to the Dawgs on their 32 yard line. Brown hit receiver Benson Leavitt on two consecutive passes for 27 yards before Perkins finished the drive soaring high in the end zone on a Brown pass for a 38 yard score and a 14-0 lead for the Dawgs. The Pirates countered behind the legs of their Q.B. scoring on a Q.B. sneak for the score with 47 seconds remaining in the first half of play.
The Pirates came out running to begin the second half, but their drive was stopped on an interception by Bulldog Cutler Crandall. The Pirates defense stopped the Dawgs cold forcing a punt. The Pirates made the Dawgs pay on their next possession taking advantage of a Bulldog player going down in the backfield giving the Pirates an easy T.D. from 25 yards out to tie the game at 14-14. The Bulldogs again were stopped by the Pirates forcing a punt which the Pirate returnee fumbled on their 41 yard line. The Bulldogs drove to the Pirates 7 yard line but three Brown passes failed as the Dawgs turned the ball over to the Pirates. The Pirates made the Bulldogs pay again as they drove the length of the field to take a 20-14 lead with 7 minutes remaining in the game. The Bulldogs were not finished yet as they drove to the Pirates 14 yard line before a fumble stopped the Dawgs cold. The Bulldogs had one more chance after forcing a Pirate punt to the Dawgs 24 yard line. The Pirates ended the Dawgs last gab intercepting a Bulldog pass in the flat taking it in for the final score of the game. ‘
The Bulldogs ended the game with Brown going for 22-33 attempts for 310 yards. Leavitt had 11 catches for 120 yards with Kelley going for 78 yards and a score. Perkins added 55 yards and a score matched by Roman with an additional 55 yards. “We had a heck of a season,” added Coach Woods.” “These kids played their butts off, but fell a little short. Had our chances, just didn’t get it done. Proud as hell of our team.”