weather icon Clear
RJ App
Vegas News, Alerts, ePaper

Pahranagat Valley rises to challenge, defeats Spring Mountain

Spring Mountain’s football team challenged Pahranagat Valley on Saturday in a way few others had done.

The Eagles tied the game at 14 midway through the third quarter and seemed to have momentum on their side in the Division IV state final.

It didn’t last long. Pahranagat Valley answered with touchdowns on its next two possessions and held on for a 26-14 victory at Bishop Gorman.

“That’s what we talk about all the time, that if somebody scores, we’ve got to answer,” Panthers running back Tyler Higbee said. “Defense is done. It’s time to play offense, and we’ve got to score.”

Higbee had as much as anyone to do with the Panthers (11-0) winning their fifth straight state title along with their state-record 57th straight game.

Higbee rushed for 208 yards and two touchdowns on 34 carries, and caught a 5-yard TD pass from fellow senior Austin Poulsen as the Panthers became only the fourth school to win five straight state football titles.

Spring Mountain (9-2) tied the game at 14 when Marcus Thomas threw a 40-yard TD pass to Dwayne James with 6:53 left in the third quarter.

But the Panthers answered with a 10-play, 55-yard drive, capped by a 15-yard TD run by Higbee to take a 20-14 lead with 2:04 left in the third quarter.

Pahranagat Valley recovered the kickoff and cashed in on the ensuing drive when Poulsen hit Higbee with a 5-yard TD to go up 26-14 with 10:32 remaining.

“The thing about these kids, whenever something happens, our kids come right back and make plays,” said Panthers coach Ken Higbee, Tyler’s uncle. “They played like the winners they are.”

Spring Mountain jumped to an 8-6 lead when Ashley Christmas scored on an 87-yard kickoff return in the first quarter. But Poulsen threw a 12-yard TD shuffle pass to Mason Stirling in the second quarter, and Poulsen’s 2-point conversion run put the Panthers up, 14-8.

Spring Mountain, a youth camp that rehabilitates students in the Clark County Department of Juvenile Justice Services program, fell one win short of its first state title.

Both the Eagles’ losses came to the Panthers, although the state final was closer than the 62-28 regular-season meeting.

“I’m very proud,” Eagles coach Aaron Masden said. “I was very proud of the boys even before we stepped on the field today. This is the best Spring Mountain team in history.”

Thomas, a junior, led the Eagles with 154 yards passing and 60 rushing. He went 10-for-20 passing, hooking up with James four times for 90 yards and Bruce Travis-Collins three times for 60 yards.

“It’s no secret everything went through Marcus for us this year, and he’s a tough, tough kid,” Masden said.

Poulsen completed 5 of 10 passes for 91 yards and two TDs, and ran for 70 yards on 16 carries for the Panthers.

Tyson Sparrow caught two passes for 62 yards for Pahranagat Valley, which outgained Spring Mountain, 391 to 218.

Six Panthers seniors will graduate having never lost a high school football game, including Tyler Higbee.

“It’s pretty amazing,” Tyler Higbee said. “It’s a testament to the coaches and the work they put in.”

Contact reporter Tristan Aird at taird@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5203. Follow him on Twitter: @tristanaird.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Sports on TV in Las Vegas

Here’s today’s local and national sports schedule, including television and radio listings.

Liberty overwhelms Spring Valley in baseball — PHOTOS

Liberty extended its winning streak with a home victory against Spring Valley on Thursday. The Patriots built an early lead, then blew open the game late.