Some timely plays on both offense and defense proved the difference Saturday afternoon for Coleville High School on its way to a 50-43 victory against Virginia City in a shoot-out for first-place in the Western Division IV 8-man football race.
Coleville (4-0 league, 6-0 overall) scored 22 unanswered points to start the fourth quarter and then held on defeat Virginia City (3-1, 4-3) in a wild contest that saw four lead changes.
“I’m not sure it was the prettiest game, but somehow we came out on top,” coach Will Sandy said. “The difference was, we made some huge plays when we really needed them.”
Quarterback Seth Huhta threw a 65-yard touchdown pass to Joel Gomez to give the Wolves a 34-29 lead in the opening minute of the fourth quarter, then Huhta broke loose for a 62-yard touchdown run to provide some breathing room.
Coleville’s defense produced the backbreaker with just under 10 minutes to go when Miguel Saldivar returned an interception 25 yards for a touchdown. Huhta ran for the 2-point conversion to make it 50-29.
The game’s pivotal play, however, may have come in the third quarter after Virginia City had scored three unanswered touchdowns to take a 21-14 lead. The Wolves answered immediately when tight end Ricky Gieser scored on a 65-yard pass and then ran across the 2-point conversion for a 22-21 lead.
“I thought that was a game-changer because they had all the momentum going in their favor,” Sandy said. “It was third-and-long and an obvious screen situation. They (Virginia City) were looking for it, and we put in a deception screen.”
The screen was set up on one side while Gieser ran his route to the other side.
“Ricky was actually the one who talked me into trying it,” Sandy said of the sophomore. “And it turned out to be a pretty effective play.”
Coleville scored again on its next possession when Gieser caught a 7-yard touchdown pass from Huhta.
Virginia City answered with a drive of its own that ended with Brayden Ferguson’s 4-yard touchdown run with less than a minute to go in the third quarter. Christian Lindsay ran for the 2-point conversion to give the Muckers a 29-28 lead.
Even after falling behind 50-29, the Muckers battled back. Carlos Robledo scored his second touchdown of the day on a 1-yard run and Ferguson ran for the 2-point conversion to cut the deficit to 50-37 with four minutes to go. Then Clinton Hess caught a 62-yard touchdown pass from Robledo to bring the Muckers back to 50-43 two minutes later.
The Wolves recovered the ensuing onside kick attempt and managed to run out the clock.
Coleville survived four turnovers in the game, including an interception in the red zone on their opening drive. The Wolves got the ball right back when Jacob Park recovered a fumble, setting up a 7-yard touchdown run by Park. Nestor Gutierrez caught a pass from Seth Huhta for the 2-point conversion for an 8-0 lead.
Park scored on a 69-yard run later in the first quarter as the Wolves went up 14-0. The senior running back finished the day with 211 yards rushing on 16 carries. Coleville rushed for 295 yards as a team.
“Our line deserves a lot of credit,” Sandy said. “We said all week those guys would have to play well if we were going to have a chance to win.”
Give credit to center Jack Peters and guard Matt Algeo, along with Gieser and Ashton Mitchell at tight end.
Defensively, Coleville was led by a swarm in which five players recorded double digits in tackles — Saldivar 14, Park and Huhta (13 each), Peters (12) and Gomez (11). Ashton Mitchell was in on 8 tackles from his end position.
“Ashton and Jack did a heckuva job of forcing them back inside,” Sandy said of the defensive ends. “We made some mistakes that hurt us, but overall, we were able to contain a very talented Virginia City offense.”