Not that long ago, the Silverado football team was rolling along and Green Valley was about as low as a prep squad could get.
What a difference six weeks makes.
Quincy Bagsby rushed for 115 yards and two touchdowns, and Dallas Halasz added two defensive scores as the No. 6 Gators pulled away from visiting Silverado for a 31-13 victory.
It was the sixth win in a row for Green Valley (7-2, 5-0 Southeast League) and sets up a battle for the league title Thursday against rival Basic.
“We knew all year this is where we wanted to be,” Halasz said. “We knew we would get there. It’s right in front of us now. We need to take full advantage of it.”
Defending league champion Silverado (4-4, 1-4), meanwhile, was eliminated from the 4A Sunrise Region playoffs after starting out with three straight wins. The Skyhawks’ disappointing season was epitomized with one sequence midway through the fourth quarter.
Trailing 17-13 after Nolan Kohorst’s 38-yard field goal for Green Valley, the Skyhawks had a second-and-10 from their own 34. Quarterback Kyle Simmons fumbled the snap and it was picked up by offensive lineman Alex Castellon, who ran for what appeared to be a 3-yard gain.
Instead, officials ruled the play was essentially a fumblerooski, which is illegal, and flagged the Skyhawks 5 yards. Two plays later, Gators defensive back Stefan Newman picked off Simmons, and Bagsby broke three tackles on the way to a 20-yard touchdown run for a 24-13 lead with 2:45 to go.
“We all had high hopes,” Silverado coach Andy Ostolaza said. “We knew we were young and had a lot of underclassmen starting, but we thought they would step up quicker. We were plagued by turnovers. We weren’t able to solve the problem the whole year.”
Halasz then put the game on ice when he intercepted a pass and returned it 74 yards for a touchdown with 1:34 left.
“We really wanted to keep fighting,” Bagsby said. “We didn’t want to let it slip away. We knew they were a good team and we had to come out strong.”
Trenton Tipton put Silverado on top 7-0 in the first quarter with a 43-yard touchdown reception from Mike Hoffman, but the Gators finally woke up after a sluggish start, thanks to Halasz.
Hoffman’s pitch on an option play bounced off his running back’s shoulder pad and Halasz grabbed it out of midair before returning it 67 yards to tie the score with 8:24 remaining in the second quarter.
“We came out a little flat,” Halasz said. “We had a flat week of practice. That play turned the momentum, I think.”
Green Valley forced a three-and-out on the Skyhawks’ next possession and took over at Silverado’s 43. The Gators needed just five plays to get in the end zone as Bagsby went 14 yards up the middle to put the Gators ahead 14-7 at halftime.
The Skyhawks closed to within 14-13 when Tipton (three catches for 122 yards) hauled in a pass from Simmons and bolted 45 yards for a touchdown 1:34 into the third quarter, but Halasz blocked the extra point. Green Valley then scored 17 unanswered points in the fourth.
“This is exactly what we wanted from the very beginning,” Bagsby said. “All the hard work in the summer, it’s right there in our hands. We’re right where we want to be.”