Trojans Football Notebook: How will Pahrump Valley bounce back?

Losing a football game by one point can be tough to take. Losing a football game by two points isn’t much easier. But what about doing both on consecutive weeks? Pahrump Valley High School football coach Joe Clayton is eager to see just how his team responds to the adversity when they take the field at home Friday against Sunrise Mountain.

“I’m anxious to see that,” Clayton said, still confident in his players but maybe a bit more concerned than when the topic was bouncing back from only one tough defeat. “We have high expectations for these guys, and I think they’re a little disappointed because they expect more from themselves.

“They know that they’ve got the individual talent to compete and win. But now they’re trying to figure out how to put that talent together and win some football games.”

Flags fly on Bulldogs

Virgin Valley racked up 379 yards of offense in its 26-24 win Friday night, but it could have been so much worse for the Trojans.

The Bulldogs committed 10 penalties, and we’re not talking a bunch of false starts. The fouls totaled 94 yards, which would have been worse except that two of them were deep in their own territory, and only half the distance to the goal line was marked off each time.

But there’s more. Holding calls wiped out a 49-yard touchdown pass, a keeper for a first down and a 27-yard pass for a first down. A face mask penalty erased a 32-yard pass to the Trojans’ 21. A personal foul brought back a 14-yard pass to the PV 20. There was a delay of game on a third-down play while the Bulldogs were trying to run out the clock. Another face mask on the final drive set up a first-and-goal for the Trojans on the Virgin Valley 7.

Penalties sometimes help make a big play happen. Still, that’s an awful lot of critical mistakes that cost the visitors an awful lot of yards. It really could have been far, far worse for the Trojans.

DG coming up big on D

He didn’t score any touchdowns, and he didn’t force any turnovers. All Dylan Grossell did was keep making plays.

On defense, Grossell plays bigger than his listed size of 5-foot-8, 165 pounds. He led the Trojans with 14 tackles in the opener against Lowry, but one play against Virgin Valley sticks out in the mind. Grossell fought off a block by Virgin Valley wide receiver Lane Ramos (listed at 6-2, 185) and almost simultaneously took down quarterback Meb Hollingshead short of the line of scrimmage. It wasn’t so much the quality of the block — Ramos was trying to get in Grossell’s way more than physically move him — as it was the ability to untangle himself from the attempt, along with the perfectly executed tackle on a good running quarterback.

“Dylan Grossell’s our best defender by far,” Pahrump Valley football coach Joe Clayton said. “He made a couple of really outstanding plays for us tonight. He had a couple that basically shut down drives and got us the ball back. That’s why we put him on the edge … simply because he’s our best open-field tackler.”

Anthony Peralta and Kody Peugh led the team in tackles with 11, while Grossell, Zach Trieb, Antonio Margiotta and Andrew Avena each had eight. Trieb had two tackles for a loss, while Grossell, Brandon Bunker and Tristan Maughan each had one.

On offense, Grossell only had two catches, but they were huge. One was on a third-and-7 at the Virgin Valley 31, the other, later on the same drive, on third-and-4 from the 11. That 10-yard catch set up Nico Velazquez for his second touchdown of the night to pull the Trojans within 20-12. The drive started thanks to an Andrew Avena interception on the first play of the second half.

The Trojans completed six passes in the game (which is more than they would prefer to throw in the first place) after throwing just one against Lowry. Grossell has been on the receiving end of three of quarterback Tyler Floyd’s seven completions this season.

Conversion therapy?

It’s not often that the decisive play of a game is a 2-point conversion during the second quarter, but it’s also not often that eight touchdowns result in only one successful conversion.

That was the case Friday night, as Hollingshead’s 2-point pass to Ramos after a 35-yard touchdown pass to Will Barnum gave Virgin Valley a 20-0 lead. Otherwise, the Bulldogs missed a kick, failed on a run and failed on a pass after touchdowns.

On the Trojans’ side, a snap over the kicker’s head foiled the first extra point, and Velazquez was stopped short of the goal line on three other conversion tries.

Trojan fans came to play

The Trojans are known for playing better at home than on the road over the years, and judging by the enthusiastic support from the stands, that is no surprise.

You expect the cheerleaders and the marching band to provide support, and they did. But a small but extremely vocal group of Pahrump Valley students made their presence felt throughout the game.

Perhaps the fans’ best moment came during the fourth quarter. The Trojans trailed by 14 and were very close to being dead in the water with Virgin Valley driving. But a very convincing “I believe that we will win” chant rose up from the home side, and as unlikely as that outcome seemed at the time, the Trojans forced a turnover and scored twice in the final six minutes to put victory within their grasp.

It didn’t work out in the end, but the fan support was as loud as advertised. With a larger crowd expected Friday night for the homecoming game against Sunrise Mountain, the players can expect even more juice from the bleachers.