Palo Verde's Chaz Thomas rushed for 153 yards and two fourth-quarter touchdowns, and the Panthers made three interceptions to beat visiting Sierra Vista 21-7 in the Sunset Region quarterfinals on Friday.
The game was a rematch of the Panthers’ 28-0 shutout of Sierra Vista in last year’s first playoff round and Palo Verde’s fourth victory in two years over the Lions.
“It was a tough game, we came out and played as hard as we could,” Thomas said. “We slowed it down in the first half but had to come out and play better in the second half."
The Panthers (11-0) will play Cimarron-Memorial (7-4) in the Sunset semifinals at 7 p.m. Friday. Sierra Vista finished 5-6.
Thomas scored from 2 and 5 yards in the fourth quarter, giving Palo Verde a safe 21-0 lead.
Sierra Vista’s Akil Sharp scored on a 1-yard run with a minute left and then recovered an onside kick, but the Panthers’ final interception ended the game.
Palo Verde scored in the first quarter on a 43-yard pass from Kelly Zuroski to Sidney Hodge.
The Mountain Lions put together two long drives, but interceptions by Alex Bonczyk and Torin Harris stopped them.
“We had a couple of breaks that didn’t go our way and they hung around because we didn’t put a lot of points on the board,” Palo Verde coach Darwin Rost said. “But I thought our defense did a great job.”