Palo Verde quarterbacks don’t often get to shine while running the double wing.
Junior Logan Hutchison took advantage of his shot on Friday night.
Hutchison threw a perfect ball, hitting Ty Fuller in stride for a 22-yard scoring strike with 25 seconds to play to lift the Panthers to a 25-20 home win over Green Valley.
“It’s awesome,” said Hutchison, who completed 4 of 9 passes for 94 yards. “We don’t throw the ball much, but when we do, it’s awesome.”
Green Valley (1-1) was clinging to a 20-19 lead when the Panthers (1-1) got the ball back at their own 20 with 3:02 to play.
The third-ranked Gators were whistled for encroachment on fourth-and-2 from the Palo Verde 28, helping the No. 9 Panthers keep the drive alive.
Hutchison hit a wide-open Darrion Finn for a 32-yard pass to move the ball to the Green Valley 30 with 40.6 seconds left.
Two plays later on third-and-2, Hutchison found Fuller streaking down the right sideline for the go-ahead touchdown.
“It was a terrific play,” Fuller said. “Our quarterback got there, and I just had to get past my man and win this for my team.”
Green Valley led most of the way, taking a 20-13 advantage on a 21-yard touchdown run by Albert Lake with 5:15 to go in the third quarter.
But Palo Verde, which was shut out last week for the first time since 2006, didn’t fold. The Panthers marched 80 yards on 13 plays, capped by a 4-yard TD run by Jaren Campbell to cut the lead to 20-19 with 7:26 to play.
Instead of going for the kick to tie the game, Palo Verde coach Darwin Rost chose to go for two, but Fuller was stuffed and Green Valley held the lead.
Fortunately for Rost, the Panthers got another chance and Hutchison guided the team down the field for the winning drive.
The drive was especially impressive considering Rost said the quarterback position was still up in the air earlier this week.
“Not bad from a junior quarterback when we don’t know who the quarterback’s going to be,” Rost said. “Ty made a nice catch there and kept it outside, and Hutch did a good job of releasing it early. That was a huge play for us.”
Finn led the Palo Verde ground attack with 104 yards on 16 carries, including a 4-yard TD run with 7:04 to go in the third quarter that cut the Green Valley lead to 14-13.
Campbell added 64 yards on 20 carries, and Fuller provided some much-needed big-play ability, rushing for 89 yards on 10 carries. He had five runs of 10 or more yards.
“I thought our backs ran hard,” Rost said. “It’s coming.” Lake finished with 113 yards on nine carries, and Brenan Adams added 77 yards on 17 carries to lead Green Valley’s ground attack. Christian Lopez had first-half touchdown passes to Austin Warhop and Nick Drum and finished 14-for-28 for 184 yards.
Rost said the team bounced back well from the loss to Centennial last week.
“The kids learned to battle,” Rost said. “They’ve just got to start believing and play hard. Play Panther football and play hard, and they just hadn’t been doing that. I thought they really played all the way to the end tonight.”
Hutchison said the team was determined not to start the season 0-2.
“We were not going to lose two in a row,” Hutchison said. “That was not going to happen. We know we can’t do that to ourselves.”
Contact prep sports editor Damon Seiters at email@example.com or 702-380-4587. Follow him on Twitter: @DamonSeiters.