Virgin Valley let its punishing running game do the talking as the Lady Bulldogs ran wild in pounding visiting Sunrise Mountain, 42-6, in a 3A South Regional playoff game Thursday night at Evan Wilson Stadium.
The victory sends the Lady Bulldogs (16-3 overall) into the 3A State semifinals where they will host Tech (10-9) Tuesday at 6 p.m. inside Wilson Stadium. Tech advanced by edging Desert Pines, 19-13, in Thursday’s first game at Wilson Stadium.
The Lady Bulldogs piled up 391 yards on the ground and scored on their first five possessions in running over the Lady Miners, who finished their season 4-16.
With second leading rusher Nikita Eskelsen unavailable, the Lady Bulldogs turned to senior Emily Teerlink and freshman Rainee Brito to fill the void. The offense didn’t miss a beat as Brito ran for 93 yards on eight carries while Teerlink added 50 yards on six attempts and a touchdown. Brito was added to the playoff roster after playing on Virgin Valley’s freshmen team which went unbeaten on the season at 15-0.
The Lady Bulldogs wasted little time in taking charge of the contest. They scored in seven plays on their initial possession capped by Katie Zuniga’s 20-yard touchdown dash that featured a juke at the 10-yard line that left a Lady Miner defender grabbing at air. Quarterback Kallie Graves hooked up with Madison Cheney for the conversion to put VVHS up 7-0 after just five minutes of play.
Zuniga, Virgin Valley’s leading rusher, finished with 80 yards on 11 carries.
On their next possession, the Lady Bulldogs covered 60 yards in only two plays to score again. Graves did the honor scrambling out of the pocket and racing down the far sideline untouched for 55 yards for the touchdown. Graves connected with Mackenzie Leishman for the conversion.
Teerlink scored on a one-yard run early in the second quarter. The score was set up by a 49-yard run by Brito. Graves connected with Markell Ludvigson on the conversion to put Virgin Valley up 21-0.
The Lady Bulldogs extended their lead to 28-0 midway through the quarter when Graves, who was 10-of-12 on the night, completed a seven-yard scoring pass to Ludvigson. Graves ran in the conversion attempt.
Virgin Valley closed out the scoring in the first half with 50 seconds remaining on a six-yard touchdown run by Graves, who also tacked on the conversion to put the Lady Bulldogs up 35-0 at the halftime break.
Graves, who led all rushers for Virgin Valley with 122 yards on seven carries, scored her third touchdown of the contest on an 11-yard run early in the third quarter. Zuniga ran in the conversion to boost the advantage to 42-0 which allowed VVHS head coach Joey Bowler to clear his bench and give everyone that dressed quality playing time.
Sunrise Mountain avoided the shutout when running back Hope Humes scored on a one-yard run with 45 seconds left in the third quarter.
Defensively, Macee Bundy led the Lady Bulldogs with six flag pulls with Julia Ramirez and Nataly Serna recording five each. Kiera Swanson, Alley Shaner and Cheney had four pulls apiece.
In other regional playoff games on Thursday, defending state champion Cheyenne blanked Boulder City, 24-0, and Del Sol Academy rolled over Mojave 32-6. Cheyenne (14-4) will host Del Sol Academy (14-8) in Tuesday’s other state semifinal contest.
The 3A state championship game is scheduled for Thursday at 4 p.m. at Cimarron-Memorial High School in Las Vegas.