Legacy’s football team had used a high-scoring offense led by running back Deshae Edwards to open the season with six straight wins.
On Friday night, the third-ranked Longhorns rode their defense and little-used sophomore L.J. McMorris to the biggest victory in school history.
Legacy (7-0, 5-0 Northwest League) kept Palo Verde’s offense out of the end zone, and McMorris rushed for 87 yards, including a 9-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter, to lift the Longhorns to a 7-6 victory over the second-ranked Panthers (6-1, 4-1).
“This is a huge win for our program,” senior linebacker Billy Purcell said. “We had never beaten Palo Verde in the four years we’ve been running. I think this really sent a statement to the whole state of Nevada.”
Palo Verde hadn’t lost to an area team since 2007. The Panthers had won 27 consecutive regular-season games dating to the 2006 season.
“Obviously Palo Verde hasn’t lost to anybody in this town in the last two years, so that’s a huge accomplishment for this program,” Legacy coach Dave Snyder said.
Legacy held Palo Verde to a season-low 150 rushing yards. The Panthers averaged 334 yards on the ground entering the game.
“As we were preparing this week, we just knew that if we shut down their running backs, we’d shut down their offense,” Purcell said. “That was what we did. We came and we played physical football, and they weren’t ready for us.”
Palo Verde’s defense gave the team a 6-0 lead when lineman Dillon Chaisson pounced on a Legacy fumble in the end zone with 2:15 left in the first quarter.
But Legacy contained Palo Verde’s big-play threats all night to keep the Longhorns in the game. Palo Verde had just three runs of 10 yards or more.
“We were concerned with their athletes,” Snyder said. “They’ve got some great athletes over there. We had to tighten up, read our keys, and the kids did a great job.”
The Longhorns, who turned the ball over four times, also forced three turnovers in the fourth quarter, one of which led to their lone TD.
“Those turnovers hurt us really bad offensively,” Purcell said. “We really didn’t get rolling because we had no momentum. But our defense really stepped it up, and we provided the momentum that our offense needed.”
Edwards, who rushed for 79 yards to give him 1,071 on the season, left with a leg injury with about eight minutes left in the third quarter.
That opened the door for McMorris, who had just 21 carries this season entering the game.
“That kid’s a stud,” Snyder said of McMorris. “He’s just so young that I was a little worried to put him in a big game like this. But that kid stepped up and showed he’s a great back.”
McMorris had two huge runs on Legacy’s lone scoring drive. He ripped off a 24-yard run that, along with a personal foul, moved the ball to the 9.
Legacy, which had penalties derail a drive in the first quarter after moving inside the 5, gave the ball right back to McMorris, who weaved his way through the defense for a touchdown with 4:12 to play. Andres Ortiz nailed the extra point to give the Longhorns the lead.