The Meadows’ Austin Brown had three touchdown receptions on Saturday, but his biggest catch came on defense.
With his team clinging to a 24-20 lead early in the fourth quarter, Brown made a diving interception in the end zone, and The Meadows would go on to score two more touchdowns en route to a 38-20 home win over Pershing County in the Class 2A state football semifinals.
“Austin changed the game right there, and he’s that type of kid,” The Meadows coach Frank DeSantis said. “It was an unbelievable catch. That’s just the player he is.”
The Meadows (10-1) will play Battle Mountain (9-2) in the 2A state title game Saturday at 6 p.m. at Damonte Ranch High in Reno.
Brown had just made a touchdown-saving tackle on the final play of the third quarter, dragging down Pershing County’s Jake Schumacher at The Meadows’ 16 after a 68-yard reception.
Pershing County moved the ball to the 8, but Brown picked off a Dylan Bloyed pass to end the threat.
“I just saw it and I had to fight through it,” Brown said. “I made some mistakes and I had to come back and get it back. I just laid out and caught it.”
Brown’s interception set up a five-play, 80-yard drive capped by a 49-yard TD pass from Garrett Gosse to Max Newman with 9:25 to play.
Brown then made a big play on special teams to set up the team’s final score. Bloyed was hit by Josh Raimist as he tried to scoop up a punt, and Brown pounced on the loose ball at the Pershing County 15.
Two plays later, Gosse hit Brown with a 17-yard TD pass, and Dylan Lee’s extra point made it 38-20 with 5:55 to play.
“Both offensively and defensively (Brown) made plays,” DeSantis said. “But the whole team played great. You can’t start thanking one person.”
The Meadows forced four turnovers in the fourth quarter, including a pair of interceptions by David Liu.
“They had some momentum and then we got those turnovers and it was just a huge momentum swing,” Brown said. “We were able push the ball down and score. It was huge.”
Brown caught TD passes of 32 and 4 yards from Gosse in the second quarter. He finished with seven catches for 86 yards.
Gosse passed for 217 yards and four TDs and added a 4-yard TD run in leading he defending state champs back to the title game.
“We’ve worked real hard, and it’s been a long trip,” Brown said. “We finally made it. Now we’ve got to work hard this week and go get them.”
Battle Mountain 35, Mountain View 8 — At Battle Mountain, Mike Lake rushed for a pair of second-quarter touchdowns, and the Longhorns used a ball-control offense to wear down Mountain View (9-3) in a Class 2A state semifinal.
Lake rushed for 21- and 30-yard touchdowns in the second quarter, helping the Longhorns grab a 14-0 halftime lead.
Mountain View took the opening kickoff and moved to the Battle Mountain 10-yard line before the drive stalled. The Longhorns then held the ball for all but a minute of the remainder of the half and the first four minutes of the third quarter.
“They’re much bigger than we are,” Mountain View coach Ray LeBoeuf said. “It’s hard when your kids are getting worn down on defense and those same kids have to turn around and try to play offense.”
Matt Newgard’s 10-yard run in the third quarter extended the Longhorns’ lead to 21-0.
The Saints trimmed the lead to 21-8 in the fourth quarter on T.J. Engel’s 9-yard touchdown pass to Karl Benjamin, but it was the closest they would come.
Justin Gray’s 45-yard TD run and Kasey Jones’ 40-yard interception return for a score — both in the final 40 seconds — allowed the Longhorns to pull away.
Engel completed 9 of 22 passes for 98 yards. The Saints rushed for 128 yards.