Bulldog Will Barnum settles in to return a Pirate kickoff. The versatile Barnum had a 50 yard T.D. reception along with two, point- after kicks.
Photo by Lou Martin

The Virgin Valley High School football team had to defeat archrival Moapa Valley twice in three weeks to make the Nevada 3A State Championship playoffs. The Dawgs lineman, were up to the challenge, as they controlled the line of scrimmage for most of the game powering the Bulldogs to a 42-20 victory over the Pirates. The Dawgs were led by hard charging running back Wyatt Delano who ran for 210 yards and three touchdowns. Quarterback Mebs Hollingshead added 130 yards and two touchdowns to the Bulldogs offensive display.

The Bulldogs got the first score of the game, linebacker Stetson Ludvigson gathered in a blocked pass on the five yard line, walking into the end zone for the T.D. The point after by Will Barnum split the uprights giving the Dawgs a lead of 7-0 at the 6:07 mark of the first period. Bulldog Xavier Poston made a huge stop on a Pirate fourth down attempt on their next possession giving the Dawgs a first and ten on the Pirates 49 yard line. It was Delano time as he took six carries to the Pirates seven yard line as the first period clock expired. Delano finished the drive going the final two yards for the T.D. and a 14-0 Bulldog advantage. The Pirates struck quickly taking advantage of a short Bulldog kickoff to their 45 yard line. A pass completion and penalty set up the Pirates on the Dawgs 15 yard line. Hayden Redd took it over for the pirates cutting the Dawgs lead to 14-7. The teams battled evenly the rest of the half.

The Bulldogs received the second half kickoff on their 15 yard line. Delano ran for 9 and 10 yards on the first two plays before Hollingshead was intercepted by the Pirates on the Dawgs 33 yard line. The Bulldogs held the Pirates on downs and took over on their own 10 yard line. The Bulldogs fumbled on their first play giving the Pirates the ball on the nine. Redd took it over from there but the point after was blocked making the score 14-13 in favor of the Bulldogs. The Bulldog offense responded with a T.D. of their own behind a vicious ground attack led by Delano and Tanner Fielding. Delano went the last 3 yards for the T.D. increasing their lead to 20-13. The Bulldogs attempt for a two point conversion failed as long snapper Riley Waite went down on the previous possession with a shoulder injury. The Pirates were not done as they started their next possession on their 37 yard line. Pirate Steele Skinner brought a roar from the large visiting fans, breaking through the Dawgs defense on a 67 yard romp for a tying T.D. The third period ended with the game tied 20-20. It was all Bulldogs in the final period. Hollingshead hit Will Barnum on a 50 yard bomb for the T.D. Hollingshead hit Wyatt Anderson for the two point conversion and a 28-20 lead with 9:40 remaining in the game. Bulldog Ludvigson got his second interception of the game setting up a 25 yard T.D. reception from Hollingshead to Kyler Sudweeks. The two point pass conversion to Sudweeks was good giving the Dawgs breathing room at 36-20. Sudweeks wasn’t done yet as he intercepted a Pirate pass on the 44 yard line. The Dawgs continued to run Delano during the drive with Delano going over from the one yard line and the final score of the evening. Bulldog Jason Abbott ended the last hope for the Pirates, intercepting a pass with 1:09 left on the game clock, ceiling the 42-26 victory for the Bulldogs. The huge Bulldog crowd mingled with the players to celebrate the Bulldogs win. The Dawgs ended the regular season with a 9-1 record and 5-0 in 3A play. “Our defense came up huge for us,” said Bulldog coach Matt Woods. “We had 4 interceptions in the game and the offensive line opened up big holes for Delano. I really believe our conditioning took over in the fourth quarter giving us the advantage. Now we have to prepare for the spread offense from Churchill County next week in Reno. Churchill is the defending Nevada State champion. “Pirate Coach Brent Lewis complemented the Bulldogs after the game, saying,” The Bulldogs five down lineman are the toughest group in 3A football. They were tough to handle.”