Coronado’s winning score wasn’t made until late in the fourth quarter Saturday, but the winning decision was made just before the game.
After the pregame coin toss, the Cougars elected to play into the wind in the first quarter, meaning they would be playing with the wind in the fourth. That decision allowed Gavin Wale to nail a 26-yard field goal with 3:26 remaining to give Coronado a 30-28 road victory over Las Vegas.
“We knew the wind would be important,” said Coronado coach William Froman, who had observed pregame gusts of 20-25 mph. “We asked for that.”
The wind was a disadvantage for the Cougars early. The Wildcats capitalized on a short punt midway through the first quarter and capped a 50-yard drive with a 2-yard TD run by Cody Summer to go ahead, 7-6.
Although the Cougars (2-2) answered with an 8-yard scoring run by Semaj Bolin late in the quarter, wind again caused problems with the conversion snap and Wales was unable to kick the extra point.
Las Vegas (0-4) had the disadvantage in the second quarter, as Summer scored again but the extra-point kick was no good.
After Zacari Holbert scored on a 2-yard run to give Coronado a 27-19 lead midway through the third quarter, the Cougars got sloppy and Las Vegas took advantage. Quran Muhammad returned a fumble 60 yards for a Las Vegas TD, and the Wildcats took the lead just a minute later on a safety to go ahead 28-27.
“We had 12 sophomores on the field tonight,” Froman said. “Sophomores can do some dumb things. We had some big blunders that made the game way closer than it should have been.”
With the wind in their favor, the Cougars mounted a long fourth-quarter drive in the fourth that stalled on fourth-and-1. That’s when Froman went to Wale for a potential game-winning kick.
“I asked him if he wanted to go for it, and he said, ‘Coach, I’ll make it,’” Froman said. “He wanted to win the game.”
After Wales nailed the field goal to put his team ahead for good, safety Andrew Montez intercepted a pass to end the Wildcats’ final possession.
“A sophomore made the biggest play of the game,” Froman said of the interception.
Holbert rushed 22 times for 174 yards and a touchdown the lead the Cougars. Bolin rushed six times for 54 yards to help Coronado.
Summer carried 15 times for 107 yards to lead Las Vegas, and teammate Zach Matlock completed 11 of 21 passes for 83 yards.