Riding a three-game losing streak in the series against Moapa Valley, Sierra Vista head football coach John Foss knew getting momentum early would help his Mountain Lions in Friday’s home opener.
Foss’ defense rose to the challenge.
Sierra Vista turned three Moapa Valley turnovers into touchdowns as the Mountain Lions started 2016 with a 21-12 victory.
Just four plays into the game, Pirates quarterback Daxton Longman fumbled during a sack, and Chevy Eliu recovered for Sierra Vista at the Moapa Valley 20.
Two minutes later, Lopaka Kolone scored from 4 yards out, and the home squad enjoyed a 7-0 lead.
“It was imperative to get off to a good start,” Foss said. “We wanted to put all the pressure on them and hopefully we would wear them down.’
Late in the first quarter, Longman had trouble with a handoff, and Sierra Vista’s Isaiah Palelei recovered at the Moapa Valley 23.
This time, the Mountain Lions went to the air, and Oscar Aliaga found a wide-open Jaxson Zibert for the score and a 14-point lead.
The Pirates did score just before halftime, as Longman threw a 7-yard score to Derek Reese, and Moapa Valley cut the deficit to 14-6.
Midway through the third period, Sierra Vista grabbed its third turnover, as Robert Butler intercepted a Longman pass at the Sierra Vista 27.
From there, the Mountain Lions marched 73 yards in seven plays, capped off by a 1-yard score from Bryan LaGrange. A 25-yard reception from Eliu and a 33-yard run from Isaiah Zavala highlighted the drive.
Moapa Valley tried to make things interesting, as the Pirates traveled 92 yards in eight minutes a 1-yard TD run by Jacob Leavitt, to pull to within nine.
However, the Mountain Lions ran out the final three minutes to preserve the win.
“We knew they (Moapa Valley) had several players play both sides of the ball,” Foss said. “We wanted to run the football and wear them down. As the game grew on, our rushing game played a big part.”
Four players had at least 40 yards for Sierra Vista. Zibert led the way with 47 yards, Kolone and LaGrange each added 43 yards on 13 carries and Zavala finished with 41 yards.
Longman completed 14 of 29 passes for 177 yards for Moapa Valley, but the Pirates rushed for minus-14 yards.