Fans breathed a great sigh of relief. Second half goal line stands proved critical for Pahranagat Valley as they twice stopped visiting Thacher (California), enrollment 235, inside the 5-yard line to take a 22-8 victory last Saturday night.
It was the 95th consecutive win for PVHS (2-0) before a near capacity crowd at Panther Alumni Stadium, possibly the largest crowd ever to see a game in Alamo.
Associate head coach Brett Hansen said, “The defense came up huge in the second half, we switched a little bit, jumped to a 5-3, but it still comes down to their reading of the offense and trust those readings.”
The first goal line defense, as the third quarter ended, was more like a gift, a take-away by Brodey Maxwell as the Thacher runner was at the 1-yard line. Maxwell said, “When I hit the kid, I saw some of my teammates were pulling him back, helping me out, and the ball just popped up and into my arms.”
The Toads (0-1) had another chance to score late in the fourth quarter as they had first-and-goal from the 3. But a pair of false start penalties helped slow Thacher’s momentum.
Coach Jeff Hooper, after the Toads had used the running game to get in scoring position, decided to opt for the pass. A pass interference penalty on Alamo put the ball about the 3-yard line. But a penalty on Thacher moved the ball back to the 8-yard line. Two more attempts were incomplete, then Ike Taylor broke up a pass on fourth-and-goal to end the drive with 3:47 to play with the Panthers up 22-8. They took over on downs and moved the ball upfield on the ground to run out the clock.
All-league quarterback Tabor Maxwell electrified the home crowd as he connected on an 80-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the game to Taylor who had slipped out of the backfield and was wide open down the near sideline.
Maxwell later had a 24-yard touchdown pass to Culen Highbe at 1:10 in the first quarter for a 14-0 lead.
Thacher’s Laurence Jackson’s 54-yard rushing touchdown midway through the second quarter cut it to 14-8 by halftime.
Maxwell connected on a 38-yard TD pass to Christian Higbee at 3:43 in the third quarter for the 22-8 lead.
On the night, Pahranagat accounted for 402 total yards. Maxwell was 11-for-20, 239 yards, and ran the ball 11 times for 44 yards. Christian Higbee carried 14 times for 92 yards. Ike Taylor had 27 yards on seven carries. Higbee had six pass receptions for 74 yards and one touchdown.
On defense, junior linebacker Richard Lewis was credited with 13 tackles. Taylor had nine.
Hansen said the team had prepared for this game for over a month, even going five practices a week at times. Lineman Garrett Higbee, Christian’s cousin, said, “We were well prepared. They did just what we expected they would.”
Pahranagat Valley is now 7-1 against California teams since 2007.
Tonight, PVHS opens league play with the first of three consecutive away games, at Round Mountain, Spring Mountain and Beaver Dam. The next home game is with Tonopah Oct. 7.
Elsewhere today Spring Mountain (0-1) hosts Sandy Valley (0-0), Tonopah (2-0) plays at Beaver Dam (2-0), and Indian Springs (0-1) is at Beatty (2-0).