SMALL SCHOOLS: Back, back, back: Runner’s flurry of returns helps Pahranagat Valley cruise

Brady Whipple wasn’t sure whether he could remember all of his return touchdowns Friday.

With two interception returns, one kickoff return and one punt return for touchdowns in the first half, it was easy for the senior running back to lose track.

Whipple scored five TDs overall, leading Pahranagat Valley to a 68-22 Class 1A Southern League win at Spring Mountain on Friday.

“I remember one,” Whipple said of his barrage of touchdown returns. “I remember the punt return at the beginning of the game.”

That play, a 69-yard runback to open the scoring, was the first of six unanswered touchdowns for the Panthers.

Pahranagat Valley (7-0, 4-0) rolled to a 62-14 halftime lead and was never threatened.

Whipple brought back interceptions 65 and 48 yards for touchdowns, and returned a kickoff 75 yards for a score. He also carried six times for 85 yards and a touchdown and punched in three two-point conversion runs.

“We spend a lot of time on special teams executing what we need to do, and when your kids execute, good things happen,” Pahranagat Valley coach Ken Higbee said.

Chase Leavitt carried eight times for 70 yards and two touchdowns for Pahranagat Valley, which got three catches for 64 yards and one TD from Kale Leavitt.

Eight of the Panthers’ 10 touchdowns came on plays of 20 or more yards.

“We struggled with keeping them contained,” Spring Mountain coach Aaron Masden said. “When we gave up some big plays, it kind of let the air out of our balloon a little bit.”

Harrison Matthews caught nine passes for 196 yards and two touchdowns to lead Spring Mountain (2-5, 1-3), which needs to win its regular-season finale at Beatty and receive help next week to reach the playoffs.

The win for Pahranagat Valley sets the stage for the marquee 1A Southern League matchup all season.

The top-ranked Panthers host second-ranked Tonopah (5-2, 4-0) at 7 p.m. Oct. 24 in a game likely to determine the No. 1 seed for the Southern League playoffs.

The game also pits the winners of the last three 1A state championships — Pahranagat Valley won in 2005-06 and Tonopah last season.

“It’s a big game for us, obviously,” Higbee said. “It’s one that we’ve talked about as coaches but haven’t talked about a lot to our kids. That’s one of the premier games in the state next Friday night.”

The Meadows 49, Agassi Prep 26 — At The Meadows, quarterback Gerard Martinez completed 14-of-18 passes for 170 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Mustangs over Agassi Prep.

Although the Stars scored on their initial possession off of a successful onside kick, The Meadows (6-2, 4-1 Southern League) scored five unanswered touchdowns to put the game away.

Mustangs running back Pat Kenny rushed 17 times for 112 yards and three touchdowns.

For Agassi Prep (1-5, 1-4), quarterback DeVonn Porter Jr. completed 11 of 15 pass attempts for 130 yards and one touchdown. He also recorded a 90-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown late in the game.

— Ryan Austin

Faith Lutheran 21, Desert Oasis 13 —
At Faith Lutheran, the Crusaders scored all three of its touchdowns in the second half and took the lead in the fourth quarter to topple Desert Oasis.

In the third quarter, Faith Lutheran (5-3) opened its scoring with a 77-yard reverse run by junior running back John Cartier. The Crusaders took the lead in the fourth quarter when sophomore quarterback Joe Portaro found wideout David Sperry in the end zone for a 23-yard touchdown pass. Sperry finished with six catches for 63 yards.

With 1:41 to go in the contest, Faith Lutheran cornerback A.J. Finlayson sealed the win, intercepting a pass from Diamondbacks quarterback Brennen Stott on fourth down. That play lead to a 1-yard touchdown run by Portaro.

Portaro completed 11-of-19 passes for 121 yards and carried the ball eight times for 44 yards.

Desert Oasis (2-5) jumped to a 13-0 early lead with help from two touchdown runs from fullback Roycen Shepherd.

Shepherd scored on bursts up the middle from 2 and 4 yards out and the Diamondback defense held the Crusaders’ offense to 55 yards in the first half.

Desert Oasis was led by Shepherd, who rushed 14 times for 63 yards, and running back Dominique Banks, who rushed 22 times for 73 yards.     

— Jonathan Reese

Lincoln County 74, West Wendover 8 — At Panaca, Lincoln County (5-3, 4-1 2A Southern) had 14 different ball carriers combine for 332 rushing yards and built a 60-0 halftime lead in a thrashing of West Wendover (0-7, 0-5).

Trent Tibbits carried six times for 34 yards and two touchdowns. Eric Rippetoe needed only four carries to collect 74 yards and two scores.

The Lynx also returned a pair of punts for touchdowns.

Tonopah 55, Sandy Valley 16 — At Sandy Valley, Tonopah’s varsity team played only a little more than a quarter and left with a 31-0 lead as the Muckers (5-2, 4-0 Class 1A Southern) rolled past the Sidewinders.

Scott Thibodeaux scored on a 45-yard run and a 43-yard punt return, and hit Denver Otteson on a 20-yard scoring pass for Tonopah.

Otteson also had a 20-yard touchdown run and kicked three extra points, giving him 21 for the season, which broke the school record of 19.

Cedrick Kirby added touchdowns on runs of 41 and 50 yards for the Muckers, who led 39-0 at the half.

Nick White scored on a 19-yard run in the fourth quarter for Tonopah.

Randal Spencer had a 3-yard touchdown run for the Sidewinders (0-7, 0-5). Conner Luther caught a 19-yard TD pass from Andrew Arista.

Needles (Calif.) 33, Mountain View 30 — At Needles, Calif., Andrew Mathews’ 20-yard touchdown pass to Wade Baldwin on fourth down and with just 51 seconds left allowed the Mustangs (6-1, 5-0 2A Southern League) to remain unbeaten in league play.

Mountain View, which led 16-0 at the half, fell behind 26-24 in the fourth quarter before reclaiming the lead on a 22-yard touchdown pass on fourth down from Raymond Velarde to Tanner Peterson with 3:30 to play.

Cortland LeBoeuf rushed 21 times for 215 yards and touchdowns of 29 and 37 yards for the Saints (2-6, 2-3). Velarde also scored on a 2-yard run.

Stevie Kidd had a pair of touchdown runs for Needles. Mathews threw three TD passes for the Mustangs.

Moapa Valley 49, Dayton 0 — At Overton, the Pirates (5-2) totaled 501 yards of offense on the way to the easy victory over the Dust Devils (3-5).

Brad Weiss led the rushing attack with 132 yards and two touchdowns. Ben Paul also gained 122 yards and scored a touchdown as Moapa Valley rushed for more than 300 yards for the third consecutive game.

Moapa Valley quarterback Max Jenkins passed for 125 yards and three TDs. He also had a rushing touchdown.

“We opened up our offense tonight and we got to air the ball out more than we have in the past couple of weeks,” Moapa Valley coach Brent Lewis said. “I thought we were sharp tonight and as far as I am concerned, this was a total team effort.”

With the Pirates leading 6-0 in the first quarter, Max Jenkins found Matt Newton on a 46-yard TD pass to give the Pirates control of the game as Moapa Valley scored all 49 of its points in the first half.

Moapa Valley had three interceptions and a fumble recovery as the Pirates held the Dust Devils to 12 rushing yards and 66 yards of total offense.

— Jon Oglesby

 Virgin Valley 42, Boulder City 16 — At Boulder City, Jonathan Gleave scored on a run, a pass and an interception return as Virgin Valley (7-1, 2-0 3A Southern League) remained unbeaten in league play.

Gleave caught a 35-yard touchdown pass from Terran Leavitt in the second quarter, had a 9-yard scoring run in the third quarter and returned an interception 24 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. He caught five passes for 96 yards.

Leavitt also threw a 12-yard TD pass to Shandon Miera. Colton Teerlink and Keyanee Faught each had a touchdown run for the Bulldogs.

Ryan Washburn scored on a 1-yard run for Boulder City (4-3, 0-2). Jeremy Smith returned a kickoff 86 yards for the Eagles’ other touchdown.

White Pine 14, Calvary Chapel 8 — At Ely, Matt Searle’s 2-yard run with five minutes to play lifted White Pine (2-5, 2-3 2A Southern League) past visiting Calvary Chapel (3-4, 2-3).

White Pine led 6-0 at the half, but the Lions scored and were successful on the 2-point conversion to take the lead before Searle’s winning run.

Round Mountain 54, Indian Springs 48 — At Indian Springs, the Knights (5-2, 4-1) edged the Thunderbirds (2-4, 0-3) to clinch no worse than the No. 3 seed in the 1A Southern League playoffs.

Abundant Life (Utah) 52, Henderson International 32 — At Henderson International, the Wolverines were unable to recover from a 26-6 halftime deficit.

Jay Sutorius carried 11 times for 113 yards and caught three passes for 84 yards and a touchdown to lead Henderson International.

Laughlin 56, Beatty 32 — At Laughlin, the Cougars (5-2) coasted to the win after leading 40-8 at halftime.

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