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May 19, 2022

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Virgin Valley stops Faith Lutheran, 33-20

Virgin Valley at Faith Lutheran

Jummel Hidrosollo/Special to the Home News

Faith Lutheran cornerback and Navy recruit David Sperry gets past Virgin Valley on Oct. 3.

Virgin Valley at Faith Lutheran

Faith Lutheran wide receiver Don Pearson completes a long pass during Friday's home football game against Virgin Valley. Launch slideshow »

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Throwing for three touchdowns and 241 yards against Virgin Valley, Faith Lutheran sophomore Joe Portaro showed why he's one of Nevada's most exciting quarterbacks.

But the excitement didn't lead to a victory, as offensively balanced Virgin Valley (5-1, 1-0) was victorious Friday night, 33-20.

"This was not our best passing game because Virgin Valley brings such a heavy pass-rush on defense," said Portaro, who had 22 completions on 36 attempts. "We're pretty pass-oriented, but we want to work the run in there more."

With a road game against defending 3A champions Moapa Valley up next on the schedule, Crusaders coach Jake Kothe is looking to build a more multidimensional team.

Faith Lutheran (4-2, 0-1) rushed for only 24 yards while allowing 193 rushing yards.

"We have to be able to stop the run and get some turnovers," Kothe said. "Our special teams was also a killer tonight. We have to win the special teams battle."

Most of Faith Lutheran's problems came in the first quarter when Virgin Valley scored three touchdowns.

Less than two minutes into the game, Virgin Valley quarterback Terran Leavitt connected with Jonathan Gleave on a 27-yard touchdown reception.

Virgin Valley added another six points after returning a blocked punt 31 yards for a touchdown.

When Gleave ran in another touchdown near the end of the first quarter, it looked like a Virgin Valley rout was on hand.

"They just took us by surprise," Faith Lutheran receiver David Sperry said. "They came out ready to play and we didn't. We picked up quickly, but it wasn't enough."

With a running attack that proved ineffective, the Crusaders turned to Portaro's arm on almost every down.

After starting the game with three completions on nine attempts, Portaro found Don Pearson for a 44-yard reception in the second quarter.

Later in the drive, he connected with Mitch Mountain for a 2-yard touchdown.

After Virgin Valley responded with another touchdown, Portaro found Pearson for a 5-yard touchdown and Sperry for a 7-yard touchdown to make it 27-20 at halftime. Pearson led all receivers with 145 yards and 10 receptions.

"Our guys brought it to (within) seven and showed they had a lot of fight in them," Kothe said. "But you can't spot a team like Virgin Valley a lead like that in the first quarter and expect to come back."

Midway through the third quarter, Virgin Valley commenced a 15-play drive that ate up the clock for most of the quarter.

Just when Faith Lutheran thought it shut down its opponent on a fourth-and-5 play on its own 34-yard line, a defensive holding penalty gave Virgin Valley new life.

Gleave scored two plays later on a 17-yard run.

The drive seemed to kill Faith Lutheran's momentum, and the Crusaders could not reach the end zone for the rest of the game.

"If we would have come out in the first quarter like we did in the second quarter, we could have won tonight," Portaro said. "We need to come out ready to play against Moapa Valley."

Sean Ammerman can be reached at 990-2661 or [email protected].

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