Friday, Nov. 19, 2010 | 11 p.m.
Las Vegas Sun reporters Ray Brewer and Case Keefer disagree on what will happen in the Sunrise Region championship game between Liberty and Las Vegas. They also break down the rest of the week's games.
Palo Verde High junior running back Jonathan Maxwell rushed for three touchdowns and senior running back Brandon Wright rushed for another as the Panthers defeated Centennial 30-0 Friday to advance to the Sunset Regional championship game.
The Panthers’ victory sets up a highly anticipated game with defending state champion Bishop Gorman High at 1 p.m. next Saturday at Palo Verde. The Gaels advanced to the championship game with a victory over Arbor View High on Friday.
Palo Verde coach Darwin Rost said the Panthers would start preparing for the Gaels immediately.
“As soon as I go down that hill, the focus turns to Gorman,” Rost said following the Panthers’ shutout victory.
Maxwell rushed for 94 yards on 17 carries with rushing touchdowns in each of the final three quarters.
“The blocking was great,” Maxwell said. “My linemen got off the ball and opened up big lanes for me to run through. They made my touchdowns possible.”
The Panthers defense came up big, forcing four Centennial turnovers as Palo Verde shut out the Bulldogs for the second time this season.
Palo Verde defeated Centennial 21-0 in a regular-season game Sept. 16.
“The defense played great,” Rost said. “They were really physical and capitalized on turnovers when the opportunities presented themselves.”
Palo Verde scored on its opening possession as senior kicker Garrett Dunlap converted a 37-yard field goal to give the Panthers a 3-0 lead.
The Panthers extended the lead to 10-0 early in the second quarter as Maxwell scored from a yard out on a dive play up the middle.
The Bulldogs’ best scoring opportunity of the night was halted on the ensuing possession as Centennial quarterback Cody Clark was intercepted by Palo Verde linebacker Demetrius Ballard inside the Panthers 10-yard line.
The Panthers took a 10-0 lead into the halftime break. Palo Verde’s defense stepped up on its first defensive possession of the second half as defensive back Donald Anderson came up with a key interception.
Anderson’s interception set up Maxwell’s second rushing touchdown of the evening, which extended the Panthers’ lead to 17-0. Maxwell scored on a 10-yard sweep play on 3rd and goal.
The Panthers used the wind to their advantage late in the third quarter as they capitalized on a Centennial 8-yard punt into the wind.
Maxwell scored his third rushing touchdown of the evening on the ensuing possession with 11:24 left to play to give the Panthers a commanding 24-0 lead.
Wright tacked on a touchdown of his own in the fourth quarter as the star tailback scored from two yards out to extend Palo Verde’s lead to 30-0.
Next Saturday’s Sunset Regional championship will feature two of the top running backs in the city as Wright and the Panthers take on Shaquille Powell and the Gaels.
The championship showdown will also showcase two of the top coaches in the city, as Rost will match wits with Bishop Gorman’s Tony Sanchez.