OVERTON — During the first 10 games of the season, the Moapa Valley football team relied on its offense and defense for victories.
On Friday, it was the special teams that made a significant contribution for the Pirates.
Zach Hymas threw three touchdown passes, and host Moapa Valley used two big plays by its special teams to beat Sierra Vista 46-26 in the Division I-A state quarterfinals.
“We were solid defensively, and offensively we were clicking on all cylinders,” Pirates coach Brent Lewis said. “It’s an all-around win. All three phases of the game, we were on top of our game tonight.”
Moapa Valley (11-0) advanced to the state semifinals for the ninth consecutive season and will play Elko (9-1) on Nov. 15 at 1 p.m. at a site to be determined.
Hymas finished 14-for-18 for 189 yards —he completed 10 in a row at one point in the first half — as the Pirates led 27-0 at halftime and 39-6 late in the third quarter after Andrew Huerta returned an interception 45 yards for a touchdown.
Kaleb Bodily added 50 yards rushing and two touchdowns, while Cole Mulcock had five catches for 74 yards and two scores for Moapa Valley.
“Not a lot of people gave us a shot this year to compete with the kids that we had, and these kids have just proved everybody wrong,” Lewis said. “This is a gritty group. We’re not the biggest group, but our kids play hard and they’re determined.
“It’s our goal every year to make it to the state championship and have a chance to win it. Nothing’s changed this year, and we’re going to keep that same frame of mind.”
Bodily scored on a 2-yard run with 4:14 remaining in the second quarter two plays after a 69-yard punt return by R.J. Hubert, giving Moapa Valley a 20-0 lead. In the third quarter, Dennis Whitmore blocked a punt deep in Sierra Vista territory, and Bodily went in from 1 yard out to put the Pirates on top 33-6.
“We’ve never played in this environment before,” Sierra Vista coach John Foss said. “We were on the bus for a couple hours, and I think it took us a while … I’m not making excuses, they’re a great team, but we just seemed a little cloudy, so we made a lot of mistakes that hurt ourselves.”
Maliek Broady ran for 107 of his 136 yards in the second half and had a touchdown for the Mountain Lions (7-4). Daniel Godfrey finished with 59 yards rushing and two scores, while Andrew Peterson also had 59 yards on the ground.
Sierra Vista had only 100 yards of total offense in the first half and scored 20 points in the fourth quarter when the game had already been decided. Randal Grimes hit Peterson for a 37-yard touchdown to make the score 46-20 midway through the fourth, and Godfrey scored from 2 yards out on the final play.
“They have terrific athletes,” Lewis said. “If you let them bust one loose on you, they’re a momentum team, and we just never let them get any momentum going. We forced them to do things they’re not used to doing.”
Contact reporter David Schoen at email@example.com or 702-387-5203. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidSchoenLVRJ.