A strong candidate for the Division IV Southern League Most Valuable Player, senior Wade Leavitt scored four touchdowns in the first 19 minutes last Friday in leading Pahranagat Valley to an overpowering 60-8 win over the Carlin Railroaders in the Division IV state semifinal game in Alamo.
PVHS relied on their strong defensive play to take control from the outset. Three of the first half touchdowns were defensive scores.
A number of observers have commented over the course of the past seven years, make a mistake against Pahranagat and they are going to take advantage of it.
The Panthers (11-0), running their national winning streak to 80, scored on each of their first seven possessions, building a 54-0 lead about midway through the first half.
Leavitt began the scoring with a stunning 45-yard touchdown run at 9:47 of the first period. He later added a 71-yard fumble return, a 55-yard interception return and an 86-yard touchdown run. He finished the game with 223 yards rushing.
It was the final home game for the eight Pahranagat seniors and they wanted to make a statement about who they are and the legacy they leave. Leavitt said Carlin was a tough team, “but I think we were just more ready for this game, and were a little faster. We put up a lot of points both offensively and defensively in the first half, and that’s always fun.”
Sophomore quarterback Tabor Maxwell tossed two touchdown passes to Shawn Wadsworth, and Jordan Cryts had a 78-yard punt return for a score, all in the first half.
The Panthers showed one of their best halves of football all season. Railroader coach Myron Branning, retiring from coaching after 10 plus years, complimented Pahranagat for their excellent efforts. “They just execute so well. You can tell those kids have been playing together for a long time. Everything they do, they have it to a science,” he said.
Maxwell was 8-for-13 passing for 129 yards. Wadsworth had four catches for 66 yards.
Alamo coach Ken Higbee attributed the outcome to the results of a good week of practice. “The kids continue to make plays at the level we expect,” He said, “We knew Carlin was going to run the ball, and that’s the strength of our defense, stopping the run, and give our kids credit in all three phases of the game, offense, defense, special teams.” One fan was heard to say it looked like two powerful diesel engines against a small puffer-billy.
Pahranagat limited Carlin to only 85 yards on the ground, Javas Leach with 22, Steven Housely with 15 and Julian Mireles 11, plus several other runners with less than 10 yards apiece.
Dennis Branning was only 4-for-13 passing for 26 yards. Javas Leach’s 12-yard run in the fourth quarter accounted for the Railroaders only score. It was just the second time in the game Carlin got inside the 20-yard line.
PVHS, the six-time defending state champion, will meet Spring Mountain (9-2) in the state finals at 6 p.m. tonight at The Meadows High in Las Vegas. NIAA playoff prices will apply.
It will be the third consecutive meeting between the Panthers and Eagles for the championship. Pahranagat has won the previous two, 36-8 in 2013 and 26-14 in 2012.
Pahranagat comes in scoring at a rate of 62.2 points per game to 50.9 for the Eagles. Alamo is averaging 497 yards total offense per game to 327.6 yards per game for Spring Mountain.
It needs to be noted, official statistics were not reported for Spring Mountain’s semi-final game at Virginia City, although the Eagles won 54.-12
Maxwell remains the top passer in the NevadaPreps Southern Nevada rankings with 2,284 yards on 141-of-202 attempts (207.6 yards per game average), and 32 touchdowns, while Spring Mountain’s Edward London, who took over for Norm Crawford, has 653 yards on 44-of-89, (51.4 per game average), and 2 touchdowns. Crawford, who started the season at quarterback, has 333 yards on 32-of-66 and five touchdowns and still plays running back with 59 carries for 172 yards.
Wadsworth is the leading receiver for PVHS, 54 catches, 901 yards and 13 touchdowns. Leavitt has 36 receptions, 736 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Maurice Stitt is the leading receiver for Spring Mountain, 27 catches, 357 yards and four touchdowns.
Leavitt is the leading ground gainer rusher for Pahranagat, 1,443 yards (131.1 per game average), to 521 yards (47.3 average) for the Eagles’ Nick Myers.
In the first meeting of the teams this season, at Spring Mountain Oct. 1, Higbee said the Panthers did not tackle well in the first half, which accounted for just a 22-14 halftime lead.
However, after making some adjustments, the Panthers went bird hunting and outscored the Eagles 32-8 in the second half, and won the game 52-24.
Leavitt had four touchdowns in the second half on runs of 2, 20, 27 and 29 yards, and finished with 180 yards. He also caught five passes for 143 yards and two touchdowns.
Maxwell was 16-of-26 passing for 187 yards and three touchdowns. Jordan Cryts added 68 yards on 11 carries.