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Football: Coronado’s depth wears down Pahrump Valley

The break in the Pahrump Valley High School football schedule could not have come at better time.

Or quickly enough.

The Trojans (1-4) limped into their week off with a 43-28 loss to Coronado on Friday in Henderson, with the host team building up a 29-point lead before a couple of late touchdowns gave the final score a better look.

But the game was mostly a war of attrition. The Trojans, already short of manpower, watched two more players leave the field with injuries while the Cougars, with more than 50 players dressed and ready to go, kept sending fresh bodies into battle.

The Trojans made a statement to their Class 4A foes on the opening drive, marching 70 yards on 14 plays, using up 7 minutes, 31 seconds and taking an 8-0 lead on Roman Roberts’ 1-yard keeper and Kenny Delker’s 2-point conversion run.

“Against a team like Coronado, that has the numbers and fresh bodies, we knew the second half was going to be tough on us, so we thought if we took the ball when we won the toss we’d run some clock out, do what we do and drive down and score,” Pahrump Valley coach Joe Clayton said. “And we did exactly that.”

The fact it took the Cougars (3-1) just one play to answer hinted at what was to come, as senior Andrew Montez raced 80 yards on a jet sweep to make it 8-7. A quick three-and-out kept the momentum with Coronado, but Dylan Wright leveled Matthew Orlando to force a fumble recovered by the Trojans on the Coronado 45.

To beat the Cougars, the Trojans needed to take advantage of turnovers, but another three-and-out handed the ball back to Coronado, which promptly marched 75 yards on 10 plays for a 14-8 lead.

The touchdown was another example of foreshadowing, as a perfect 27-yard pass from Keegan Tharp to Trey Goughnour for a score was called back because of an illegal formation. Undaunted, the Cougars ran the same play, as Tharp hit Goughnour for a 32-yard TD.

The Trojans answered with another typical drive, with 10 plays covering 36 yards until Delker ran a sweep left on fourth-and-2 and didn’t stop until he found the end zone 35 yards away. He had less success on the conversion run, and the game was tied at 14-14 with less than a minute left in the half.

“I’ve got to give props to Kenny Delker,” Clayton said. “He’s really stepped up with Tony (Margiotta) going down and now Kody (Peugh). Kenny Delker‘s taken a lot of reps that he might not have. He’s scored the past couple of games for us and has been running the ball really well.”

Instead of going into intermission tied, the Cougars went 75 yards on four plays as Tharp hit Montez for 25 yards, Chris Avila for 23 and Hudson Murakami for 27 and a score. Murakami seemed to rip the ball right out of the hands of a Pahrump Valley defender, and the extra point — one of five hit by senior Austin Almeido — made it 21-14 with eight ticks left on the clock.

“There were two balls that were 50-50 balls that could have gone either way,” Clayton said. “We were a little upset. We thought we should be a little more aggressive in the air. They had some pretty good receivers, big, strong kids. The deep balls that they had, our coverage wasn’t bad, they just beat us to the ball.”

To that point, the Trojans had competed well, but the thin roster — made thinner with injuries to Peugh and Steele Adams — was tougher to overcome after halftime, just as Clayton had expected. After rushing for 159 yards during the first half, the Trojans were held to 53 during the second half while the Cougars’ passing game continued to carve up the Pahrump Valley defense.

First it was a 9-yard pass from Tharp to Montez midway through the third quarter to cap a four-play, 34-yard drive begun after a Trojan fumble. Then came a 17-yard TD pass from Tharp to Alex Lopeman to finish a 43-yard drive aided by a face mask call that made it 36-14 with 2:52 left in the third.

A third four-play scoring drive made it 43-14 less than a minute into the fourth, with Avila bursting over the left side for a 15-yard scoring run. The rest was academic, but a 22-yard pass from Roberts to Wright on third-and-9 highlighted a 68-yard scoring drive capped by Donnie Miller’s 4-yard run made it 43-22, and Roberts hit Andrew Avena with a 29-yard touchdown pass on the final play of the game to forge the 43-28 final score.

“Roman’s done a great job,” Clayton said. “He’s a young kid, he’s s sophomore. He’s running the offense just fine. He’s had a couple of mistakes, but nothing out of the ordinary, He’s doing a good job.”

A year ago, the Trojans headed into an off week before the start of league play. They face the same situation this year, with one more loss, one fewer league game on the schedule and a smaller roster.

“We will be healthier to start league, but how healthy I’m not sure yet,” Clayton said. “I think this bye week is just tremendous. It’s like a refresher. They have that time they can kind of forget about the nonleague a little bit, and it’s going to give us a little more time to prepare for Cheyenne.”.

For more coverage, see Trojans Football Notebook at pvtimes.com

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