The Las Vegas High football team spent 48 minutes on the field Friday, but one particular minute made most of the difference.
The third-ranked Wildcats returned back-to-back fumbles for touchdowns over a 60-second span in the third quarter and went on to edge host Basic, 28-21.
Las Vegas (6-1) trailed 13-7 when Jayson Stetson recovered the first Wolves fumble. He ran it back for a 23-yard touchdown to give his team a 14-13 lead with 4:45 left in the third. Teammate Ray Langston scooped up a second loose ball a minute later, returning it four yards to extend the lead to 21-13.
“Sometimes when things turn around like that, kids get down a bit,” Wildcats coach Chris Faircloth said. “(Basic) made a second mistake, and we were able to capitalize both times.”
Faircloth’s team made its own key miscue in the first quarter, as Omar Valenzuela intercepted an Emir Lopez pass and returned it 67 yards to give Basic (5-2) a 7-0 lead.
“That’s football,” Faircloth said. “We made a mistake and they capitalized to take the momentum.”
The ninth-ranked Wolves went ahead 13-0 on a 15-yard pass from Robby Faiman to Justin Burdno early in the second quarter.
Lopez responded by hitting Aaron Franklin with a 37-yard TD pass late in the quarter, cutting the Wildcats’ deficit to 13-7 at halftime.
After falling behind with the fumbles in the third quarter, the Wolves battled back to tie it in the fourth on another TD pass from Faiman to Burdno with 6:55 to play.
But Las Vegas answered with a 10-play, 80-yard drive that ended with a 4-yard touchdown run by Reggie Bullock.
Faiman, who completed 10 of 20 passes, led the Wolves deep into Las Vegas territory in the game’s final minute. But his last pass was batted down near the end zone as time expired.
Faircloth said he wasn’t surprised to see such a close battle.
“We knew it was going to be a hell of a game,” he said. “We knew they were a good football team and it was going to be tight.”