Pat Kenny has attended The Meadows school since kindergarten and remembers its run of five straight state football championships from 1997 to 2001.
The senior running back helped the Mustangs capture another title Saturday, and it’s safe to say this one will be even more memorable for him.
Kenny rushed for 150 yards and five touchdowns as The Meadows beat previously undefeated Pershing County 46-30 in the Class 2A state final at Arbor View High School.
Kenny credited his teammates with giving his school its first state title since 2001.
“I’m just glad we had the supporting cast to get us here,” Kenny said. “Finally we are back at number one.”
The Meadows (11-2) seized control from the start, using a balanced attack that gave Pershing County problems, in the Mustangs-vs.-Mustangs showdown.
Pershing County (11-1) had allowed just eight points and 141 yards per game this season. But The Meadows gained 147 yards on its first two drives to seize a 14-0 lead and stun Pershing County.
“It was important that we come out and set the pace early,” said freshman quarterback Gerard Martinez, who completed 16 of 25 passes for 225 yards and a score.
Pershing County cut The Meadows’ lead to 21-16 on the last play of the first half when Udy Gonzalez grabbed a pass deflected by two Meadows defenders at the 41 and rambled to the end zone.
But The Meadows’ defense put it back in control early in the second half.
Nate Gord intercepted his second pass of the game to stop Pershing County’s opening drive of the third quarter, returning to the 5 to set up Dylan Lee’s leaping 5-yard touchdown reception from Martinez on the next play.
Mike Kenny recovered a Pershing County fumble on the ensuing kickoff to set up Lee’s 27-yard field goal with 7:04 left in the third quarter for a 31-16 Meadows lead.
“We gave up that touchdown at the half that was ridiculous,” Pat Kenny said. “After that, we got ourselves together and we did what we always do: We won it in the third quarter.”
Despite his five-touchdown performance, Kenny said The Meadows’ passing game was the key to the championship victory and the season.
“I don’t think they could deal with our high-powered offense,” he said. “The Battle Mountain coach said it perfectly last week: We had the best pass game in the state.”
Coach Frank DeSantis switched early in the season from a power rushing attack to a spread passing offense to take advantage of Martinez’s talent.
The quarterback said he was willing to do whatever it took to win.
“Just whatever I could bring to the team, whatever Coach wanted me to do, that’s what I’m going to do,” Martinez said. “The O-line was great today. A few times I made mistakes, but thankfully they weren’t game-changing. I’m just glad that we came through.”
The Meadows outgained Pershing County 433 to 227 yards and forced four turnovers.