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September 1, 2014

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high school football:

Green Valley gets its confidence back in overtime victory against Palo Verde

On the verge of falling to 1-3, the Gators erase a double-digit deficit in the second half to grab thrilling win

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Green Valley players celebrate their win over Palo Verde Friday, Sept. 20, 2013. Green Valley won the game in overtime 42-41.

Green Valley vs. Palo Verde 2013

Green Valley wide receiver Gio Hernandez is congratulated after scoring a go-ahead touchdown against Palo Verde during their game Friday, Sept. 20, 2013. Green Valley won the game in overtime 42-41. Launch slideshow »
Prep Sports Now

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Las Vegas Sun sports reporters discuss "GPS Friday", when they headed out to North Las Vegas to get a handle on a few non-Henderson, non-Gorman teams. Who's better: Palo Verde or Arbor View? Is Centennial still a cinch for the playoffs despite a rough start? Listen for a conversation on those topics as well as many more.

The Green Valley High football team might be as good as advertised, after all.

The Gators certainly played that way Friday in the closing minutes against visiting Palo Verde, erasing a 13-point second half deficit to grab a momentum-building 42-41 victory in overtime.

Green Valley opened the season ranked No. 3 in the Sun’s rankings, but lost two of its initial three games in nearly dropping out of the top 10. By handing No. 2 Palo Verde a rare nonleague defeat, the Gators earned their spot alongside the area’s elite teams.

That was especially true in overtime.

Palo Verde received the ball first in the extra session and scored on its second play when Jaren Campbell rushed in from 4 yards out. But the Panthers missed the extra point in opening the door for Green Valley.

Green Valley quarterback Christian Lopez threw his third touchdown of the game to even the score at 41, hooking up with Markus Varner in the corner of the end zone. Kicker Conor Perkins drilled the point-after-attempt for the decisive point.

“We hung in there until the end. We knew that is what it was going to take,” Green Valley coach Brian Castro said.

Green Valley trailed 27-14 with 7:42 to play in the third quarter when Palo Verde’s Campbell scooped up a fumble and raced 28 yards for a touchdown.

Instead of the Green Valley players sulking on the sideline after its offense gift-wrapped a touchdown for the opposition, they immediately regrouped and starting chipping away at the deficit.

Lopez only ran about one minute off the clock in leading his team on a scoring drive, connecting with Gio Hernandez for a 15-yard touchdown to trim the deficit to 27-21.

On the next possession, Lopez and Hernandez again connected for a touchdown, this time a 21-yard scoring strike to pull Green Valley ahead, 28-27.

Hernandez, who missed the past two games with an ankle injury, had a career-best performance in his return. He scored on a 68-yard touchdown reception on the first play of the game on a trick play from wide receiver Kyler Chavez, and finished with five catches for 131 yards.

“This is definitely a huge win,” Hernandez said. “You guys ranking us third and then losing to teams we should have beat definitely put us down. But we stayed hungry in practice. This is just a momentum booster.”

Lopez had a pair of rushing touchdowns, scoring on a 4-yard scramble with 4:03 remaining to give Green Valley a 35-27 lead. But Palo Verde didn’t go away in providing great end-of-the-game dramatics — finally, a highly anticipated game lived up the hype.

Palo Verde’s Parker Rost connected with Jake Ortale on a 13-yard touchdown with 2:05 remaining and Rost rushed in for the 2-point conversion to even the game at 35 and force overtime. Ortale had a spectacular diving catch in the end zone for the touchdown, his second of the day from Rost.

This night, however, belonged to Green Valley.

From the brink of being 1-3 football team, the Gators now have confidence going into Northeast League play in two weeks. Next week, they have a bye.

“They are just good kids. They come from good families. They work hard and they want to be successful,” Castro said. “They are really hurt when we aren’t (successful). We had to go through that twice this year. They want to win. Anytime you get to coach kids who want to win, that is fun.”

Ray Brewer can be reached at 990-2662 or [email protected]. Follow Ray on Twitter at twitter.com/raybrewer21.

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