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October 22, 2017

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McQueen’s Martinez smashes Palo Verde


Justin M. Bowen

McQueen senior Anthony Martinez dives dives for positive yards Saturday at Mackay Stadium in Reno. Martinez rushed for 115 yards and two touchdowns in the Lancers’ victory.

State Title Slips Away

After running through its first fourteen opponents, Palo Verde falls short in the 4A state championship, losing to McQueen 13-12 Saturday.

Palo Verde vs. McQueen

The Palo Verde Panthers stretch before the state final game against the McQueen Lancers for the 4A Nevada championship Saturday at the Mackay Stadium in Reno, Nevada. The Lancers beat the Panthers, 13-12. Launch slideshow »

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RENO — Disney World should offer McQueen High School's Anthony Martinez a free trip, because the senior running back/cornerback/kicker made all of the Lancers' dreams come true Saturday in the 4A state championship.

Martinez snagged two interceptions and scored both of McQueen's touchdowns as the Lancers edged Palo Verde 13-12 at Mackay Stadium.

But forget the fact that he racked up 115 yards on nine carries.

Don't even bother to mention his game-winning 59-yard touchdown scramble with less than three minutes remaining in the game.

That final interception to crush Palo Verde's hopes of a championship comeback? He probably catches those in his sleep.

What's most impressive about Martinez' performance Saturday is that amidst all of the post game celebrations, the 5-foot-9, 171-pound Martinez was quick to point out perhaps his only mistake of the game.

"I could have played better," Martinez said. "I missed a tackle. I should have had that one. That was my fault."

Although he was quick to deflect attention from his MVP-worthy game, there was no ignoring that Martinez was the difference-maker Saturday.

Entering the title contest, Martinez had only rushed for nine touchdowns and 641 yards in 13 games. On Saturday he scored twice while picking up 115 yards.

"Anthony hits the hole so great and he's a really a team player," said McQueen coach Ken Dalton. "It was a team effort, but that run was special."

That run was Martinez' 59-yard touchdown scamper in the fourth quarter when Palo Verde had all but loaded the 4A trophy onto its bus.

Trailing 12-7, the Lancers' defense managed to force the Panthers to punt deep in their own end with 2:58 remaining in the game.

The next play Martinez broke away for the game winner.

"We knew we had it," Martinez said. "We are a second half team. Tyler York told me in the huddle, 'Just think about breaking this, because I know you can break it.' So I told David Ahmadi to lead me straight through and we went all the way."

Palo Verde, trailing 13-12 with 2:47 on the clock at that point, still had plenty of time to move into field goal range to win the title.

Martinez had other plans.

On a third-and-10 from his own 20-yard line, Palo Verde quarterback Kelly Zurowski tried to throw a deep pass, but the Lancers were in a "prevent" defense and the pass went to Martinez rather than the Panthers receiver, which all but sealed the deal for the Lancers.

"I don't even know what to do right now," Martinez said. "Maybe it will hit me later. We wanted this one for a long time. We did it."

Steve Silver can be reached at 948-7822 or [email protected].

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