With a potential playoff berth at stake Friday, Sierra Vista was staggered by an early haymaker from visiting Pahrump Valley when T.J. Milk hit Issak Holmes with a 72-yard touchdown pass on the third play of the game.
But the Mountain Lions countered with a one-two punch of Budhatt Kolone and Daniel Godfrey to not only get back in the game, but deliver the knockout blows.
Kolone and Godfrey combined to rush for 333 yards and five touchdowns to rally Sierra Vista to a 42-16 victory over the Trojans.
Coupled with Cheyenne’s 38-14 win over Spring Valley and Cheyenne’s 28-0 win over Clark, Sierra Vista finished tied for fourth place in the Sunset League. The Mountain Lions (3-6, 3-4 Sunset) won the tiebreaker with Spring Valley due to their head-to-head victory on Oct. 15.
Sierra Vista will play Thursday at Moapa Valley, the Sunrise Division champion, in a Southern Region quarterfinal game.
The Mountain Lions ran their way to the postseason, rolling up 402 rushing yards against Pahrump (3-6, 2-5) behind punishing running from its two powerful backs.
Kolone had 18 carries for 184 yards and a pair of touchdowns, while Godfrey carried 28 times for 149 yards a three scores.
“It was all because of the line. Without the linemen, we couldn’t have gotten all the yards,” Kolone said.
Kolone gave Sierra Vista the lead for good early in the second quarter, as his 68-yard gallop to the end zone put the Lions in front 14-6.
“The second half, the goal was to stay focused because mentally we were losing traction in the first and second quarter,” Godfrey said. “We just wanted to tire the defense out. Once they are tired out, they can’t stop us.”
In the second half, it was Kolone that came up with two big plays in a three-play sequence to put Sierra Vista firmly in control.
With Sierra Vista up 22-9 with 5:02 left in the third quarter, Kolone recovered a Pahrump Valley fumble on a botched handoff attempt, then rushed for a 34-yard TD two plays later to make it 28-9.
Sierra Vista’s defense came up with four sacks and three interceptions and held the Trojans to minus-17 rushing yards.
“We were mad,” Kolone said of the Mountain Lions’ defense after the first half. “We just worked hard and just studied what they were doing (in the second half).”
At one point in the second half, Sierra Vista’s defense forced the Trojans to toss 11 consecutive incomplete passes. And after the 73-yard TD pass on the opening drive, Pahrump’s offense only generated 3 yards.
“It’s really good (to make the playoffs),” said Godfrey, who had touchdown runs of 7, 30 and 5 yards. “Everybody doubted us and the odds were against us this season. But we just wanted to win this game to get into the playoffs. We did.”