Green Valley football coach Brian Castro knew his defense would have to defend the pass Friday to have any chance at a win.
For more than three quarters, the Gators struggled to do that. But Albert Lake turned things around with a key interception late in the fourth quarter, and Green Valley finished strong for a 56-31 victory over visiting Foothill in the first round of the Sunrise Region playoffs.
Christian Lopez completed 25 of 40 passes for 346 yards and five touchdowns to lead the Gators, but Falcons quarterback Drew Doxtator seemed to find an answer for each Green Valley score.
With Foothill driving in the fourth, Lake snagged a Doxtator pass and ran 70 yards down the right sideline to give Green Valley a 49-31 lead with 2:46 remaining. The Falcons unravelled, and the Gators controlled the final minutes.
“We got some pressure on their quarterback,” Castro said. “And he threw the ball off target.”
Doxtator, who completed 34 of 58 passes, didn’t make many mistakes. He racked up 426 yards with four touchdowns and came up with key completions each time the Falcons needed a score. His 48-yard completion to Ian Ellis early in the fourth led to a 27-yard Cory Fisher field goal that gave Foothill its only lead at 31-28.
The Gators needed just one play to reclaim the lead, however, as Lopez hit Connor Perkins with a 50-yard TD pass to put Green Valley ahead, 35-31 with 8:46 left.
Doxtator made his first significant mistake later in the quarter when he threw an interception that led to a seven-play TD drive that Green Valley capped with a 16-yard scoring pass from Lopez to Giovanni Hernandez.
With the Falcons trailing 42-31, Doxtator led another impressive drive. But Lake’s interception at the Green Valley 30 squelched both the drive and Foothill’s hopes of a rally.
“We were certainly happy to come up with those plays,” Castro said. “Doxtator doesn’t make many mistakes.”
Neither offense encountered much trouble in the first half, as Green Valley built a 14-0 lead with a TD pass from Lopez to Skyler Chavez and a 20-yard TD sprint by Larry Norman. Foothill answered in the second quarter with TD passes from Doxtator to Ellis and Bryce Broadwell.
Lopez’s 11-yard pass to Hernandez just before halftime gave Green Valley a 21-14 lead, but another TD pass from Doxtator to Broadwell tied the score at 28 with 5 minutes remaining in the third. Fisher’s field goal followed, but that was all the offense the Falcons had remaining.
Markus Varner caught nine passes for 130 yards to help Green Valley.
Broadwell finished with 209 yards on nine receptions to help Foothill.
■ Liberty 41, Silverado 27 — At Liberty, Tyler Newman threw for 292 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Patriots.
The senior quarterback found Drew Hladek five times for 131 yards, including a 75-yard touchdown strike that put the Patriots up 34-14 in the third quarter.
The Skyhawks led 8-7 early after junior running back Jujuan Bell scored on a 2-yard run and quarterback Armani Jones-Sailor connected with Rohan Walters on the 2-point conversion. Silverado had chances to extend its lead, but two fumbles eventually led to a 27-yard touchdown run by Liberty’s Ethan Tuilagi that put the Patriots up 14-8.
Liberty scored again on a 22-yard pass from Newman to Deseon Mcquaig after Ethan Dedeaux intercepted a Jones-Sailor pass. Silverado answered with an 88-yard scoring pass from Jones-Sailor to Walters, which cut Liberty’s lead to 21-15 late in the second quarter.
The Skyhawks were led by Walters, who caught seven passes for 147 yards.
■ Canyon Springs 12, Coronado 7 — At Canyon Springs, Zaviontay Stevenson scored two touchdowns to lead the Pioneers (9-1) over the Cougars.
Stevenson, who had 145 yards on 31 carries, had a 44-yard touchdown run in the first half, and returned the second half kickoff 95 yards for another score.
Tanner Gorski scored on an 11-yard reverse for Coronado (4-6), which had the ball inside the Pioneers’ 5-yard line in the final three minutes and appeared to score the go-ahead touchdown but had it called back on a holding penalty.
DIVISION I-A STATE QUARTERFINALS
■ Faith Lutheran 48, Desert Pines 41 — At Faith Lutheran, Fabian Lagudi scored for the fourth time with 1:13 left for Faith Lutheran (10-2).
Desert Pines jumped out to an early 20-6 lead on touchdowns by Tim Hough, Dillard Davis and Malik Davis, but the Crusaders finished the first half with a 26-yard TD pass from Jake Deaville to Marc Rubalcaba and a 1-yard run by Lagudi. Early in the third, Faith’s Keenan Smith scored on a 6-yard carry to give Faith a 27-20 lead.
Lagudi finished with 198 yards on 23 carries, leading key Faith possessions, including a nine-play, 80-yard drive that ended with a 7-yard Lagudi TD run with under five minutes to play to make it 41-33.
On the ensuing possion, with the Jaguars facing a fourth-and-6 at their own 37 and just four minutes to play, Hough came back on a slightly underthrown pass from Iquan Corsey and converted the play into a 63-yard game-tying TD.
Corsey finished with 220 yards passing and 70 yards rushing. Hough had three TDs and 189 yards receiving. Wilkes rushed for 107 yards on 14 carries. The Jaguars finished the season 10-2.
Deaville had 227 yards passing, including two touchdowns for Faith. Smith rushed for 84 yards on 14 carries.
■ Moapa Valley 20, Virgin Valley 13 — At Overton, Zach Hymas tossed two touchdown passes to Jeremy Waite, and the Pirates held on to top the Bulldogs in a Division I-A state quarterfinal.
Hymas, who completed 14 of 29 passes for 221 yards, had TD passes of 8 and 67 yards for Moapa Valley (11-0), which will visit Churchill County in a state semifinal at 1 p.m. on Nov. 16.
Kaleb Bodily added a 25-yard TD run for the Pirates, who built a 20-6 lead in the fourth quarter.
Garrett Leavitt’s 28-yard TD pass to DeVonte Milligan with three minutes left pulled the Bulldogs (8-3) to within 20-13, but Moapa Valley recovered the onside kick and ran out the clock.
Leavitt finished 25-for-44 passing for 330 yards, with a 25-yard touchdown pass to Dillon Graves.
DIVISION III STATE FIRST ROUND
■ The Meadows 34, Agassi Prep 12 — At The Meadows, Bryson Navallo had 30 carries for 242 yards and three touchdowns for the Mustangs.
Jacob Gleason got The Meadows (8-2) started in the first quarter with a 35-yard touchdown pass to Matthew Biafore at 5:21 to make it 7-0.
Kobe Williams led Agassi Prep (6-4) with 19 rushes for 182 yards and a 68-yard touchdown run. He accounted for the majority of the Stars’ offense, which finished with 249 total yards.
DIVISION IV STATE FIRST ROUND
■ Spring Mountain 76, Indian Springs 28 — At Spring Mountain, Joshua Banasiak threw for 280 yards and four touchdowns, and the Golden Eagles returned three kicks for touchdowns.
Banasiak completed 8 of 14 passes, including scoring throws of 61 and 51 yards to Arias Jefferson and 43 and 38 yards to Isaiah Saromines. Jefferson added a 25-yard TD run for Spring Mountain, which scored at least twice in each quarter.
Spring Mountain (6-2) took the lead for good before it ran a play as Valmir Bojku returned a punt 40 yards for a score just more than two minutes into the game.
Troy Heath completed 9 of 18 passes for 100 yards and two touchdowns for Indian Springs (6-4). He also returned a kickoff 62 yards for a score.
■ Pahranagat Valley 60, Tonopah 6 — Tabor Maxwell passed for 258 yards and three TDs for the Panthers.
Jordan Cryts rushed for 131 yards and two touchdowns on eight carries for Pahranagat Valley (10-0).
Wade Leavitt added four catches for 107 yards and two touchdowns for the Panthers. Tonopah finished 5-5.