Las Vegas High quarterback Emir Lopez entered Friday’s Sunrise Region semifinal game expecting his team to put up big offensive numbers.
He didn’t, however, expect to be the key player in that game plan.
Lopez completed 14 of 25 passes for 254 yards and three touchdowns to lead the host Wildcats past Green Valley, 45-32.
The win lifted Las Vegas (11-1) into next Friday’s Sunrise championship contest, in which the Wildcats will host Del Sol at 7 p.m.
Lopez said he thought his team would rely primarily on the running game Friday.
"We came in thinking we could run all over (Green Valley)," he said. "But they stopped us for a while, so we went to the air and it worked."
Las Vegas wasted no time in establishing the tempo, as an early turnover by the Gators resulted in a 9-yard touchdown run by Reggie Bullock.
Though the Wildcats scored on a 40-yard Trevor Lowe field goal late in the quarter, the Green Valley defense forced Lopez to go to the air as the first half progressed.
He responded with a 64-yard pass to Aaron Franklin to put Las Vegas ahead 17-0 with 26 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
Gators quarterback Nick Libonati, who completed 25 of 45 passes for 354 yards and five touchdowns, got his team back into the game with TD passes to Dallas Halasz and Skylar Holloway to make it 17-12 midway through the second quarter.
But Lopez answered with a 25-yard touchdown pass to Marquan Major to give Las Vegas a 24-12 halftime lead.
The Wildcats took control early in the second half, scoring on a 15-yard pass from Lopez to Saeveon Butler and a 4-yard plunge by Bullock to go ahead 38-12.
Though his defense gave up some late touchdowns, Las Vegas coach Chris Faircloth said he was generally pleased with his team’s performance.
"Our offense carried us," he said. "I thought the offense played very well."
Bullock finished with 98 yards on 14 carries to help the Wildcats, and Major caught eight passes for 102 yards.NevadaPreps.comIn-depth high school sports coverage
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