Tabor Maxwell used both his arm and his legs last week in the playoff game with Tonopah, “Not by design,” he said, “but because they were giving it to us.”
He completed 13 of 18 passes for 233 yards and two touchdowns, but also ran the ball an unaccustomed 21 times for 191 yards and two scores to lead the Panthers to a 56-22 win over the Tonopah Muckers in the Class 1A state quarterfinals.
Maxwell connected on TD passes to Cody Williams (71 yards) and Culen Highbe (61 yards) for Pahranagat Valley (10-0), which will host the Whittell Warriors at 6 p.m. tonight.
Maxwell said about his unusually high number of rushes in this game, “Most of them weren’t designed, they were just dropping too many guys out in the flats to guard against the pass, leaving 10-12 yards open underneath, so I took what I could get.”
Williams finished with six catches for 139 yards, and Highbe had three catches for 71 yards for PVHS. Teammate Christian Higbee had 14 carries for 83 yards and two TDs. Ike Taylor and David Ingram each added a rushing score for the Panthers, who led 32-14 at halftime.
Vinny Bagarose scored three touchdowns to lead Tonopah (6-4). Bagarose had 12 catches for 209 yards and ran four times for 80 yards.
Tanner Otteson finished 20 of 25 passing for 285 yards and added 70 yards rushing for the Muckers.
The Panthers started out a little sluggish in the first quarter. However, after scoring 34 points in the first half, coach Brett Hansen said it wasn’t the offense that lacked spark. “We were doing what we wanted to, it was the defense where we were struggling tackling, didn’t wrap up for the knockout blow, not playing fundamental football like we know how, and tackling like we teach every day in practice.”
When the Muckers did score, PVHS usually marched right down the field and scored again to keep the margin widespread.
Against Whittell (9-1) in the semifinals tonight, it will likely be as it was in last year’s state championship game, the Panthers’ top-rated defense against the offensive firepower of the Warriors averaging 60.3 points per game.
Quarterback Dismas Womack leads the team in four categories: 132.2 yards rushing per game, 109.5 yards passing, 241.7 total yards per game, and 17.6 points per game. Junior running back Corey Huber, who had over 1,600 yards rushing last year, has been third second behind Womack this season, who comes into the game with 1,322 yards rushing, 26 touchdowns and 13 passing touchdowns, and sophomore Dalton Warswick has 965 yards and 13 touchdowns.
By comparison, Pahranagat Valley’s defense is only allowing 8.2 points per game, and has given up two or more touchdowns only twice all season.
Maxwell has thrown for 1,638 yards and 24 touchdowns his senior season. In addition, the Panthers triple-threat backfield is a powerful force by itself. Higbee, Maxwell and Taylor have a combined 2,123 yards rushing. Higbee 883, Taylor 639 and Maxwell 601. Both Higbee and Maxwell have 10 touchdowns each.
In the other regional games last week, Spring Mountain beat Beatty 44-6, Virginia City beat Eureka 54-0. Spring Mountain played at Virginia City earlier today in the other semifinal.
The state championship is at Clark High in Las Vegas Nov. 19 at noon.