Saturday, Sept. 13, 2008 | 12:15 a.m.
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In just his second varsity start, sophomore quarterback Joey Portaro helped the Faith Lutheran Crusaders roll to a 43-14 victory over the Pahrump Valley Trojans on Friday.
Portaro threw for four touchdowns, and kicked two field goals and six extra points over the course of the game. His favorite target was sophomore wide receiver Don Pearson, who caught three touchdown passes and had 131 yards receiving.
The Crusaders got off to a quick start, taking advantage of a disasterous opening drive by the Trojans. Following the kickoff, Pahrump's offense started at the 23-yard line. But after an incomplete pass was followed by two consecutive fumbles for losses, the Trojans were pushed back to the 4.
Standing deep within his own goal line, punter Gregory Shippee prepared to kick the ball out of Trojan territory, but a bad snap lead to the game's third fumble in just five plays. Players from both teams swarmed for the ball, but it was Faith Lutheran receiver Mitch Mountain who recovered the fumble in the end zone for a touchdown.
On the Crusaders' first possession they marched down field with a nine-play, 76-yard drive capped by a 13-yard touchdown throw from Portaro to Pearson.
Their second score would be much more chaotic.
Facing second and 13 at their own 45, the Crusaders fumbled the snap, forcing Portaro to scramble backward and recover. Portaro then lobbed a desperation pass to avoid being sacked, which was snatched out of the air by Pearson just beyond the line of scrimmage. Pearson ran the broken play 51 yards to score with 1:13 remaining in the quarter.
Portaro struck again in the second quarter with a 58-yard touchdown throw to receiver Croix Nikademus, who also had an interception in the game.
"Initially we were able to shut down their run and we were able to throw the ball well," said Faith Lutheran coach Jake Kothe. We had some big plays offensively and just set the tone right off the bat."
The Trojans managed to get on the board in the second quarter with an 81-yard drive that was capped by a 1-yard touchdown run by tailback Zach Weldon. Weldon had 81 yards and two touchdowns on the day.
But Weldon's efforts weren't enough as the Crusaders went in at halftime up 33-7.
Portaro would go on to throw another deep touchdown to Pearson in the third quarter -- this one a bomb to the wide open Pearson that went for 48 yards, while Pahrump closed out the game with an impressive 36-yard touchdown run from Weldon.
There was little time to celebrate for the Crusaders, as Kothe already was beginning to prepare for next week's game.
"It's just another step in the direction we need to go. We'll just keep working hard and we'll see what happens next week," he said. "Our next opponent is very tough -- Francis Parker is good -- so we've got our work cut out for us, especially the coaching staff, so we'll start tonight."