Virgin Valley High came up short in its quest for redemption as the Lady Bulldogs fell to defending champion Cheyenne, 20-6, in the 3A state championship contest Thursday evening at wind-swept Greg Spencer Stadium at Cimarron-Memorial High School in Las Vegas.
The Lady Bulldogs, who fell to Cheyenne 7-0 in last year’s title game, finished the season 17-4 overall after settling for their second consecutive state runner-up trophy.
Virgin Valley’s fortunes took an ominous turn on the fourth play from scrimmage when leading rusher Katy Zuniga went down with a foot injury. She spent the remainder of the contest on crutches along the sideline.
With Zuniga out, the Lady Bulldog rushing attack wasn’t the same. Virgin Valley managed just 97 yards on the ground on 22 carries. Part of that, however, was due in part to the quickness of the Cheyenne defense.
Virgin Valley head coach Joey Bowler said before the contest that the Lady Bulldogs had to contain Cheyenne dual-threat quarterback Eleseana Patterson. The sophomore proved to be a major difference in the contest as she rushed for 165 yards on 18 carries and scored all three of the Lady Shields’ touchdowns. She also intercepted two passes on defense.
The Lady Bulldogs got on the scoreboard first early in the second quarter when Nikita Eskelsen capped a nine-play drive with a one-yard touchdown run. The conversion pass failed leaving Virgin Valley up 6-0 with 12:45 to play in the first half.
Cheyenne opened up the second half with a seven-play, 60-yard scoring drive capped by Patterson’s three-yard touchdown run. She also ran in the conversion to put the Lady Shields up 7-6.
The Lady Bulldogs drove to the Cheyenne 19-yard line on their next possession, but were turned away when Patterson intercepted a pass at the five-yard line and returned it 39 yards to the VVHS 36.
The Lady Shields cashed in eight plays later when Patterson scrambled 10 yards for a touchdown on fourth down on the final play of the third quarter. Patterson appeared to be stopped short of the goal line, but the official said she had crossed the plane into the end zone.
The Lady Bulldogs came back and drove into Cheyenne territory. A 25-yard pass from quarterback Kallie Graves to Makenzie Leishman appeared to give Virgin Valley a first down at the Cheyenne 13-yard line. A holding penalty, however, wiped out the play and VVHS eventually turned the ball over on downs.
Patterson’s second interception of the night set up Cheyenne’s final score. She did the honors herself scrambling 15 yards for a touchdown with just 1:06 remaining in the contest.
Graves completed seven passes for the Lady Bulldogs for 111 yards. Madison Cheney had four receptions for 61 yards.
Emily Teerlink led Virgin Valley in rushing with 33 yards on four carries while Eskelsen added 32 yards on nine rushes.