Las Vegas freshman defensive back Barry Williams’ second-quarter interception proved to be a momentum-shifting, game-changing moment Friday.
His pickoff of Foothill quarterback Aaron Dupin’s pass stopped a potential game-tying drive and helped send host Las Vegas past the Falcons, 52-20, Friday night.
Las Vegas (10-1) will host Green Valley (8-3) in the regional semifinals at 7 p.m. Friday. Foothill, the No. 4 seed from the Southeast League, finished 4-7.
The Falcons seemed ready to seize the momentum and erase a seven-point deficit in the first half’s final minute. They had driven 80 years to Las Vegas’ 19 when Williams stepped up, snatching Dupin’s pass and racing 53 yards.
On the next play, Las Vegas’ Emir Lopez threw a shovel pass to Reggie Bullock, who went 33 yards for the score giving the Wildcats a 28-14 lead at halftime.
The Falcons had 177 yards before the Williams interception, but just 73 after. Las Vegas’ defense held Foothill to just six second-half first downs.
“We had some coverage problems in the opening half,” Las Vegas coach Chris Faircloth said. “But for a freshman to make a play like that turned the game around. Getting the score just before halftime took plenty of wind out of their sail.”
If the turnover just before halftime didn’t take the air out of Foothill’s bag, Lopez’s performance surely did.
Lopez, averaging just 182 yards per game passing coming into Friday, torched the Falcons by throwing for 280 yards and five touchdowns. In addition, Lopez had a 29-yard run for another score midway through the third quarter.
“This isn’t an easy offense to get, and Emir has done and excellent job learning the system,” Faircloth said. “We did make some mistakes, and had problems in the special teams department, but it’s good to get the win. We have struggled in the past in the opening round, and it’s great that this one is behind us.”
Lopez threw two touchdown passes each to Bullock and Aaron Franklin and one to Saeveon Butler. Vegas outgained Foothill, 474-250, and was led on the ground by Cameron Rogers, who gained 78 yards on six carries and one score.
“From the interception on, our defense was outstanding,” Faircloth said. “They (Foothill) was climbing right back into the game and who knows what would have happened had they scored on the drive before halftime. It was huge, because they (Foothill) didn’t have the same confidence after halftime.”