It looked bleak for the Las Vegas Wildcats on Friday night against Chaparral.
Especially after their first loss of the season.
But an early 13-0 hole didnt faze coach James Thurman or his players, and they climbed their way back into the game.
Zach Matlock scored on a 4-yard touchdown run with 46.4 seconds left as the host Wildcats beat the Cowboys 34-27 on Friday night.
Elijah Hicks rushed 33 times for 178 yards and two touchdowns for the Las Vegas (4-1). Matlock was 10 of 16 passing for 104 yards and a touchdown, and ran 14 times for 87 yards and two scores. Las Vegas finished with 299 rushing yards.
The Wildcats needed every single yard in a see-saw game. Las Vegas responded to a pair of early Cowboys touchdowns from Devin Gaddy by scoring 20 unanswered points to take a 20-13 lead into halftime.
However, Chaparral (3-3) scored game-tying touchdowns twice in the second half.
Still, it wasn’t enough.
“We need to get our kids out of their comfort zone,” Cowboys coach Paul Nihiipali said. “There were too many mental mistakes on our part. We battled and I’m proud of the boys, but we need to improve and get better.”
Gaddy helped Chaparral to an early lead with an interception return for a touchdown, his second in as many games. He also made a tremendous one-handed diving touchdown catch to put the Cowboys up 13-0 midway through the first quarter.
“The ball was slightly overthrown,” Gaddy said. “I was just trying to get my hand out and catch it.”
Matlock came in, though, and provided a spark for the Wildcats by hitting Jack Hernandez on a 15-yard scoring strike late in the first quarter. He added a 1-yard touchdown run midway through the second quarter to tie the game at 13.
Hicks added a 15-yard scoring run with 4:08 left in the second quarter.
But Santiago Vialpando hit Kentrell Petite on a slant route and he took it 69 yards to the Las Vegas 10-yard line to set up Gaddy’s second receiving touchdown late in the third quarter.
Las Vegas responded by turning to the ground game for the rest of the night. Hicks scored on a 24-yard burst up the middle on the first play of the fourth quarter.
However, Tyray Collins’ 78-yard punt return for a score with 8:24 again tied the game at 27.
Las Vegas went to the read-option, though, with Matlock keeping the ball or handing it to Hicks. Eventually, Matlock scored the game-winning touchdown from 4 yards out.
“We had a hurry-up call going,” Matlock said. “We got to the line fast and snapped the ball as soon as the ref set it down before they were ready. We have a good lineman and I found a hole and pushed through it.”
Cowboys quarterback Vialpando was 12 of 20 passing for 211 yards and a touchdown. Petite caught seven passes for 151 yards. Gaddy finished the game with five receptions for 83 yards and two scoring receptions.