By Kirk Kern
The Virgin Valley High football team jumped out early against Moapa Valley High in the NIAA/One Nevada state championship game on Thursday night at Allegiant Stadium, but couldn’t hold on as the Pirates won the game, 27-14.
The loss was only the third on the season for the Bulldogs, who finished 10-3. Their only other losses were a 21-14 home loss to Sports Leadership and Management on Sept. 24 and a 46-28 loss at Moapa Valley on Oct. 22.
Virgin Valley reached the championship game by traveling all the way to Elko on Nov. 13 and coming home with a 23-16 win.
The Bulldogs started fast against Moapa Valley in the championship game. On the game’s first play from scrimmage, Virgin Valley quarterback Gavin Brown hit Jimmy Kelly on a short pass to the right.
Kelly turned the corner and outran the defense on his way to a 68-yard touchdown. Edgar Perez converted the extra point and the Bulldogs had a 7-0 lead.
The Pirates had two long drives in the first half, but one ended in an interception and another in a fumble recovery by the Bulldogs. A third drive ended on a fourth-down stop by the Bulldogs.
In the second quarter, the Bulldogs extended their lead to 14-0 when Brown lofted a pass down the sideline that Cameron Perkins grabbed over the defender and continued on into the end zone. Perez converted the kick for the extra point.
Moapa Valley cut the lead to 14-7 just before halftime on a Payton Neilson 1-yard run with 40 seconds left before the intermission.
The Pirate defense held the Virgin Valley offense scoreless in the second half. Moapa Valley tied the score at 14-14 on a Neilson touchdown pass to Dustin Gordon with 5:26 left in the third quarter and took the lead on a Neilson 5-yard run with 6:58 left in the game.
The Pirates missed the extra point and the score was 20-14. The next two Virgin Valley drives ended in turnovers, the last being an interception return for the touchdown by the Pirates Jayme Carvajal.
For the game, Brown completed 22 of 33 passes for 313 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Kellen Dugan rushed eight times for 40 yards while Benson Leavitt caught 11 passes for 118 yards.
On defense, Martin Jordan had 10 tackles to lead the Bulldogs. Perkins and Cutler Crandle each had interceptions while Perkins and Peanut Workman both recovered fumbles.