Friday night’s game between archrivals Virgin Valley and Moapa Valley high schools met the pre-game hype as the Bulldogs and Pirates battled evenly throughout the game with the Bulldogs coming out on top 14-7 in the Dawg House. As expected, yards on the ground would determine the eventual winner of the game. Bulldog Jaden Perkins edged out Pirate counterpart Jacob Leavitt 112 yards to 95 to lead the Dawgs ball control. But it was the Bulldog defense that stepped up to return the ‘Hammer’ to the Virgin Valley after nine years in Moapa.
Jarrett Tietjen took the opening kickoff on his own 10 yard line and rambled up to the 32 giving the Dawgs good field position to start the game. The Bulldogs threw the Pirates off guard with excellent play selection as quarterback Hogan Fowles mixed up the run game with pin-point passing driving the Dawgs 68 yards for an opening T.D.
The big play was a strike to Cesar Zarate in the left corner for 22 yards and the touchdown. Zarate’s point after was good giving the Dawgs a 7-0 lead after four minutes of play. The Bulldog defense ruled the balance of the first period forcing two Pirate punts. The period ended with the Pirates on their own 26-yard line.
The Pirates wasted little time mounting a tying T.D. drive to tie the score. Leavitt scored from 27 yards out, also kicking the P.A.T. making the score 7-7. The rest of the half was controlled by the defenses as the Bulldogs stopped Pirate momentum with an interception by Fowles and a fumble recovery by Zarate. Neither team could mount a drive the rest of the first half leaving their fan base exhausted.
The second half was marred by yellow flags stopping any potential drive by either team. The Pirates received the opening kickoff on their 22 yard line. Two five yard penalties set up a punt from their 12 yard line. Perkins made the defensive play of the game, breaking through to block the punt on the seven scooping up the ball for a T.D. Zarate’s P.A.T. was good giving the Dawgs a 14-7 advantage less than two minutes into the second half.
The defenses, helped by penalties slowed down the game as neither team could take advantage of four possessions each the remainder of the third period. Leavitt made an interception to stop a Bulldog drive. The period ended with the Pirates on their 30-yard marker.
The big plays of the fourth period were a fake punt and sack by the Dawgs. Facing a fourth and four yards for a first down from the Pirates 44 yard line, Zarate faked the kick and got the potential first down but a holding call negated his efforts. The Bulldogs were forced to punt.
Bulldog Tim Moeai sacked the Pirate Q.B. for nine big yards stopping a potential Pirate drive. Each time, the Pirates managed an offensive display, a Bulldog defensive player stepped up. Trevon Hollingshead fell on a Pirate fumble with less than four minutes remaining on the Dawgs 35 yard line. The Pirates had their last opportunity to tie the game with 1:22 remaining on the clock but three straight incompletions gave the ball back to the Dawgs with 40 seconds remaining. Two kneels by Fowles ended the game with the Bulldogs on top 14-7.
The Bulldog faithful vented nine years of frustration with a huge celebration as time ran out. “It was a huge win for our program, our kids and our community,” said Bulldog coach Yori Ludvigson. “The win set us up well within region, but we just need to take care of business. Penalties and small mistakes hampered us, but the boys overcame them for the win.”
The Bulldogs travel to Del Sol Friday Oct. 7. The Dragons are 1-1 in Sunrise League play defeating Boulder City Friday night 39-7.