Pirates’ defense clutch in 36-33 win at Clark

Defense wasn’t exactly a calling card for Moapa Valley’s football team Friday at Clark.

But when the Pirates needed a stop in the fourth quarter, coach Brent Lewis’ team delivered.

After blocking a punt to take over at Moapa Valley’s 38-yard line while down three points with 3:47 remaining, the Chargers’ offense was stifled, unable to pick up a first down. The Pirates took over and ran out the clock for a 36-33 victory.

“We’ve got things we’ve got to fix,” Lewis said of his defense. “But our kids battled; they could have folded up. It was good to get the win, definitely.”

On fourth-and-3 from Clark’s 35-yard line with 25.6 seconds left, Moapa Valley (3-3) was able to run out the clock when Kelan Weiss hit Casen Lewis for a 20-yard gain on a slant pattern on the final play.

“I think they were expecting us to try to pound it,” coach Lewis said of the final play. “I didn’t think they’d be looking for something like that. Fourth down, if it was incomplete, then we’d play defense for a couple plays.”

Clark (2-4) nearly erased a 36-20 fourth-quarter deficit when Greg McKinney ran for a 36-yard touchdown and added a 60-yard TD pass to Marquise McKinney, but the Chargers got no closer than 36-33.

After carrying once for minus-2 yards in the first half, Moapa Valley running back Zach Waite powered his way to 103 yards on 10 second-half attempts. The senior scored on a 36-yard run to give the Pirates a 28-20 lead with 3:12 left in the third quarter.

Weiss completed 16 of 22 passes for 190 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions. The senior hooked up with Hayden Cooper eight times for 98 yards, including scoring strikes of 11 and 4 yards in the second quarter to help Moapa Valley build a 22-13 halftime lead.

Casen Lewis scored on a 70-yard punt return in the second quarter and added five receptions for 54 yards for the Pirates.

“Offensively, we’re pretty solid,” coach Lewis said. “I’d like to be able to run the ball a little better, but putting the ball in the air is our strength, so that’s what we’ve got to play to.”

Moapa Valley overcame four turnovers.

Coach Lewis was glad to get the win, but wanted to see his team finish stronger after nearly blowing a 36-20 fourth-quarter lead. The Pirates coughed up a 22-8 second-half advantage in a 23-22 home loss to Green Valley a week ago.

“The same thing happened last week,” Lewis said. “We had a two-touchdown lead in the second half. We have to have a more aggressive mentality with the lead instead of playing soft. We’ve got to have a killer instinct, and we just don’t have it yet.”

Greg McKinney passed for 93 yards, including TD tosses of 10 and 60 yards to Marquise McKinney, and rushed for 61 yards and two scores to lead the Chargers.

Chris Jackson carried 15 times for 91 yards and a touchdown for Clark.