Friday, Sept. 30, 2016 | 11:59 p.m.
Entering Friday night’s game the Virgin Valley Bulldogs were riding high on a four-game winning streak — including impressive wins over Sunrise Mountain and Spring Valley from the 4A Division.
But none of that would matter if they couldn’t finally beat Moapa Valley. The longtime rival had owned Virgin Valley, beating them six straight times.
Friday night the Bulldogs defeated the Pirates 14-7 in front of a packed house and celebrated like only a small town can by rolling a slew of grills out to midfield and having a barbeque right on the 50-yard line.
“It was great, the kids and people just hung out and grilled right on the field,” Virgin Valley coach Yori Ludvigson said. “Alumni brought everything and there are even couches out on the field. Nobody wants to go home.”
It had been 2,532 days since Virgin Valley had beaten their rival from up Interstate 15, and the Pirates certainly showed it in their celebration as they partied on the field until nearly midnight.
“You have to love small-town football,” Ludvigson said. “There’s no better place to be. The place was packed for a huge rivalry game and it was amazing.”
Virgin Valley drove straight down the field on its opening possession, and Hogan Fowles found Cesar Zarate for a 40-yard touchdown pass to give the Bulldogs a 7-0 lead.
Moapa tied the game at 7-7 as the teams went into the locker room, and the Bulldogs began to feel the pressure.
“The moment gets to you a little bit. We had a little panic and got a little tight,” Ludvigson said. “At halftime we really felt like we were in control of the game, but we were our own worst enemy with penalties and mistakes.”
With the score still tied in the third quarter, Virgin Valley called on Jayden Perkins one more time.
The team’s leading rusher carried the ball 22 times for 112 yards, but his biggest play came on special teams.
Perkins broke through Moapa’s line and blocked a punt, then scooped it up and ran into the end zone to give Virgin Valley a 14-7 lead that would become final.
“We took a chance and sent some boys,” Ludvigson said. “You just gotta love Perkins. He’s a gamer. He made a play and that was the ball game.”
The win moves Virgin Valley to 5-1 and in the driver’s seat of the 3A Sunrise Division.
“It’s a huge win because of who it was against,” Ludvigson said. “You have to break that glass ceiling for us to move on and do what we want to do. We had to beat Moapa, it’s just something we had to do.”