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Whipple’s four return TDs ignite Panthers

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.”

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