As Vince Castro came open on the right side of the endzone in the waning seconds of Friday’s game at Silverado, the Las Vegas wide receiver experienced a nerve-racking few seconds waiting for the ball to arrive.
“It took forever to come down,” Castro said. “I was just looking in the sky saying ‘come on hurry up before a defender comes.’”
Castro finally snatched the ball from the sky — and Silverado’s hopes for a victory — with 13 seconds left, lifting Las Vegas to a 38-35 win over the host Skyhawks.
Quarterback Trevor Swenson, who connected on 24 of 31 passes for 279 yards, including three second-half touchdowns, said he and his team wanted to make a statement when they started the game-winning drive on their own 30-yard line trailing 35-31 with 2:19 left.
“It was big for me to step up, and it was big for the Wildcats to step up,” Swenson said. “We’ve caught criticism from everybody, so it was time to come out and do it. And it was time for me, as a sophomore, to come up and be a leader for this team.”
In a game that saw the lead change hands seven times — including four times in the final quarter — Las Vegas needed all the help it could get from Swenson and its offense to counter a Herculean effort from Silverado’s Alex Cater.
Cater had 47 carries for 314 yards and five touchdowns for the Skyhawks (4-3, 1-2), the last coming on a 2-yard run up the middle that gave Silverado the lead with 2:30 left in the game.
“All I could do was yell ‘It’s going to (number 2), tackle 2,” Castro said. “You have to deal with adversity like that. It was just a dog fight.”
Las Vegas led 24-14 heading into the fourth quarter, but Cater capped an 80-yard drive with a 3-yard TD run to trim the lead to 24-21. After a 3-and-out by the Wildcats, Cater exploded up the middle, then raced down the left sideline on an 89-yard touchdown jaunt to put Silverado back in front, 28-24 with 9:21 left.
But Swenson answered for Vegas, tossing a 72-yard pass to Joshua Mayfield to put the Wildcats at the Skyhawks 8-yard line. Three plays later, Swenson gunned a 2-yard pass to Mayfield in the middle of the end zone to put Las Vegas back in front, 31-28 with 7:44 remaining.
Silverado held a 14-10 lead at the half, but Swenson connected with Castro on a 26-yard TD strike, and Elias Miller capped a nine-play, 80-yard drive with a 2-yard touchdown run that put the Wildcats ahead 24-14 with 2:57 left in the third quarter.
Mayfield had six receptions for 115 yards and a TD for Las Vegas. Andrew Moreland rushed for 132 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries for the Wildcats.
“Our defense struggled tonight, so the offense had to step up,” Swenson said. “It was time for the offense to step up. We haven’t stepped up in the last couple of games.”
As for Castro, he said it was the first time he hauled in a game-winning touchdown reception.
”I always wanted to do that,” said Castro. “And I did it in my senior year. It’s excellent.”