Stephen Sylvanie / Special to the Sun
Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012 | 10:32 p.m.
Las Vegas Sun sports reporters Case Keefer and Ray Brewer preview all of the week's high school football action.
The Moapa Valley High football team appeared to be executing its game plan to near perfection on its first possession Saturday in the Division-IA state title game against three-time defending champion Truckee.
Moapa Valley received the ball first and ran nearly 10 minutes off the clock with a 17-play drive. But despite bringing the ball to inside the Truckee 5-yard line, the Pirates had to settle for a field goal and 3-0 lead.
The rest of the game followed a similar script. Moapa Valley marched into scoring range several times, but couldn’t convert in producing a result that was all too familiar for the Overton school.
They lost to Truckee for the fourth straight year in the state championship game, allowing 20 unanswered points to close the game to fall, 34-10, at Bishop Gorman’s Fertitta Field.
“We had those two scoring opportunities early and we didn’t come away with any points except those three,” Moapa Valley coach Brent Lewis said. “Those were missed opportunities for us. I don’t know how many times we were in the red zone. It seemed like we couldn’t get that one key play we needed in the red zone.”
Truckee only had possession for 53 seconds with 8:26 to play in the second quarter. Yet, Moapa Valley only had a three-point lead to show for the strong start.
And, that lead was erased with one play.
Truckee quarterback Erik Holmer’s first of four touchdown passes went 80 yards to Zak Pettit to give the Wolverines a 7-3 advantage with about eight minutes remaining before halftime. They would never trail again.
Holmer’s second touchdown pass came 23 seconds before halftime to Tyler Griffin for a 14-3 halftime advantage.
Moapa Valley’s Kasen Hughes scored on an 11-yard run to trim the Pirates deficit to four points early in the third quarter, but Truckee quickly answered on it ensuing possession with a short touchdown run from Holmer — permanently stealing the game’s momentum and essentially sealing the championship.
“That kind of sucked the life out of us right there,” Lewis said. “That was the key drive of the game. That was a momentum killer for us.”
Moapa Valley entered on a 12-game winning streak dating back to late August. Most games, the Pirates’ run game was impossible in averaging 339 yards on the ground per game.
But with Truckee’s defensive front having a clear size advantage against Moapa Valley’s offensive line, the Pirates altered their plan of attack. Conner Mortensen entered with 1,755 yards and 31 touchdown on 182 carries, but was limited to nine carries for 43 yards.
“They are tough to run against,” Lewis said. “They take all of your strengths away and make you do things you wouldn’t do. They have good kids and they are well coaches. You can’t beat them. They are tough.”