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Churchill County overcomes slow start, tops Chaparral

Cade Vercelletti scored three touchdowns — including the go-ahead score in the second quarter — and threw for one on a halfback pass as the Churchill County’s football team overcame an early 14-0 deficit to defeat visiting Chaparral 40-27 on Saturday in a Division I-A state semifinal.

The Cowboys (9-3) grabbed an early lead on Richard Hernandez’s 4-yard touchdown run and Tyler Ford’s 40-yard interception return for a score, both in the game’s first four minutes, but Churchill County fought back.

“Even if we get ahead, we still have to play four quarters,” Chaparral coach Paul Nihipali said. “They made some adjustments, and we made some mistakes.”

Connor Richardson’s 31-yard pass to Vercelletti with 8:39 left in the second quarter tied the score 20-20, and Vercelletti had a 2-yard TD run four minutes later to give the Greenwave the lead for good at 27-20.

Vercelletti added a 14-yard TD run in the third quarter and threw a 3-yard TD pass to Conner Nelson early in the fourth quarter to put the game away. He finished with 125 yards on 28 carries.

Richardson completed 11 of 16 passes for 217 yards and two touchdowns for Churchill County, which plays Moapa Valley (11-1) for the title at noon on Nov. 21 at Reno High.

Hernandez had two TD runs for Chaparral, and teammate Richard Nelson added a 6-yard scoring run with 6:34 to play to cap the scoring. Nelson finished with 42 yards on nine carries. Chaparral quarterback Andrew Solis completed 16 of 30 passes for 171 yards. He was 8-for-11 for 86 yards in the first half.

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