The Pahranagat Valley high football team went hunting wolves last Friday in Alamo, under nearly a full moon, and came after them with a three-pronged pitchfork, their MCL 1150 backfield: Maxwell, Cryts and Leavitt. In Roman numerals, MCL is 1150.
Notwithstanding a two-hour game delay, a power outage in the second quarter, and the field sprinklers coming on during the halftime entertainment, the Panthers downed the Coleville Wolves 62-14 in the NIAA Division IV state semifinals.
Junior running backs Wade Leavitt and Jordon Cryts put on an offensive show for the fans. Leavitt rushed for 191 yards on 18 carries and three touchdowns, and Cryts added 128 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries, as the Panthers piled up 395 yards on the ground, and amassed 755 all-purpose yards, to just 353 for Coleville.
Caleb Hansen also added to the Panther cause with 39 yards on five carries.
Leavitt now has 1,130 yards rushing on the season, and Cryts 594. Leavitt also had 12 tackles on defense. Hansen had 8.
Meanwhile, the third man in the 1150 backfield, freshman quarterback Tabor Maxwell, completed 18 of 26 passes for 289 yards and three touchdowns, further establishing a school passing record of 2,417 yards. He also had two interceptions.
Coming into the game, unbeaten Coleville, the northern division champion, had two main questions. Could they sustain drives on the Panthers vaunted run and pass defense, and could they hold against the speed of Cryts and Leavitt out of the backfield?
The answer was a resounding ‘No.’ The Alamo front line controlled both sides of the ball, and continually bottled up Coleville’s leading rusher Jacob Park (1,259 yards), holding him to just 31 yards for the night on 11 carries. Seldom could he, or anyone else, break through into the secondary, or turn the corner on the Panther defensive ends.
Meanwhile, Alamo’s defensive front put heavy pressure on Wolves quarterback Seth Huhta all night, forcing him to scramble, and sacked him four times. He was 10 for 23, 123 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. And Coleville had to punt six times.
In holding the Wolves to only 14 points, well under their average of 58 points per game, coach Will Sandy said of the Panthers, “They’re just better than we are, what can I tell you?”
Leavitt said, “We felt we could run over these guys, we’ve had a good push off the line and opened up large holes for us, and me and Jordan have run really hard.”
Pahranagat coach Ken Higbee said he was very proud of the team with the win, now seeking a state record sixth consecutive championship. “We had a good game plan, and as usual the kids executed it very well. We were able to defend their running game with six people. If you can do that, they can’t go over the top of you. A good team defense will shut down the kids that come in with all the gaudy stats. There were one or two plays only on defense when we didn’t have kids where they were supposed to be.”
Talking of the work Leavitt and Cryts did, Higbee gave equal credit to his offensive line play. “Look at the kids up front and the blocking that goes on. There’s a seam, then that burst to that next level, and that next level is where they get the yards, but the kids up front did a great job controlling the line and creating those seams.”
Start time of the game, originally set for 7 p.m., was delayed because of a mix-up in scheduling by the NIAA with the Southern Nevada Officials Association in Las Vegas who thought the game was on Saturday afternoon. The officials were hurriedly contacted and arrived about 9 p.m.
Asked how they felt about having to come to Alamo on the night not expected, one official said it was alright with him. “I was going to watch football tonight anyway, so I might as well work a game.”
Another problem occurred at 9:19 in the second quarter when a momentary power outage all over Alamo knocked out the field lights.
Power quickly came back on to the scoreboard, press box, and concession stand, but Alamo Power said it takes about 20 minutes for the stadium lights to cool off, then they would come back on. When the lights did come back on, they restored to full brightness rather quickly, and the game resumed.
And to make for an even more interesting night, because of the lateness of the hour, during the halftime entertainment by dancers from Team Extreme of Lincoln County High, the automatic sprinklers came on. But the girls continued right through the brief shower, didn’t miss a beat, and received a hardy applause from the crowd.
The speed of the Panthers, both offense and defense, against Coleville became apparent quickly. Alamo opened the scoring on their second possession in the first quarter on a 30-yard pass from Maxwell to a wide open Cryts and an 8-0 lead.
After Caleb Hansen recovered a fumble by Jacob Park at the 23, Cryts scored his second touchdown on a 14-yard run.
As was said one time by one of the other league coaches, “You can’t make turnovers against a good team like Pahranagat, they’ll take advantage.”
But, the Panthers had their own rash of miscues in the second quarter with four turnovers: two fumbles and two pass interceptions. However, Coleville was not able to capitalize on any one of them.
Late in the first quarter, after another Coleville three-and-out, Alamo started on their own 33-yard line and Maxwell engineered an 8-play, 67-yard drive ending with a 6-yard TD run by Leavitt.
In the second quarter, Cryts returned a Coleville punt 54-yards for a touchdown and a 28-0 lead.
The Wolves then did manage to sustain a drive, reaching the Alamo 5-yard line before Shawn Wadsworth intercepted the ball at the 1-yard line and brought it out to the 35. But the Panthers turned it right back on an interception by
who returned it to the 4-yard line.
Backed up against their own goal line, the Panthers came up with possibly their best defensive series of the season, holding the Wolves on fourth-and-goal at the 1-yard line.
An Alamo fumble gave the ball back to the Wolves at the 48-yard line, but they went three-and-out.
Another Alamo turnover later in the quarter gave Coleville the ball at the PV 41, but yet again, the Wolves could not move and turned the ball over on downs, as Utah Ray sacked Huhta on fourth-and-8 at the 40.
Coleville’s only two scores came on a 75-yard kickoff return by Jacob Park late in the third quarter, and a 15-yard touchdown pass from Huhta to Nestor Gutierrez mid-way through the fourth quarter
Levitt, Cryts, and Jeremy Minick added three more scores for Alamo late in the fourth quarter, a 59-yarder by Leavitt, 21-yards by Cryts, and an 8-yard reception by Minick.
Leavitt and Shawn Wadsworth each had an interception, and Utah Ray recorded two sacks for Pahranagat Valley.
In the other semifinal, at Wells, on a field of packed snow and ice, Spring Mountain’s Joshua Banasiak rushed for three touchdowns, and the Golden Eagles (8-2), rallied from behind in the second half, then came up with a big defensive stand in the final minute to knock off the Leopards 38-35.
Pahranagat Valley (11-0) and Spring Mountain will meet this Saturday at 1 pm. at Indian Springs High in a rematch of last years state final.
In league play, Pahranagat beat Spring Mountain 54-22 Sept. 27, the game in which Maxwell had a school record 99-yard touchdown pass to Cryts.
NIAA admission prices will apply.