RENO - In high school football, defense wins state championships.
Las Vegas forced four turnovers and held Hug to just 18 total yards rushing in its 23-0 win for the Class 4A title before an announced crowd of 5,535 Saturday afternoon at Mackay Stadium.
"This is probably the best defense we've ever had," Las Vegas coach Chris Faircloth said. "That one for us was our kids try to play as hard as they can every play. We preach it, we work on it, we do it all summer long. We don't except anything less."
The Wildcats (14-1) denied the Hawks (12-2) of winning their first state championship after reaching to the title game for the first time in school history.
Faircloth said the key to the game was stopping Hug's ground attack.
"We were not going to let them run the ball inside was our focus," Faircloth said. "We were going to make them run to the sidelines and we would have a much better chance of winning this ball game."
Hug coach Rollins Stallworth said turnovers hurt his team's field position along with the punting of Jeremy Craddock, who pooch kicked two balls inside the 5-yard line.
"We turned the ball over too much. We gave them great field position," Stallworth said. "We got the ball set deep in our territory. The difference in this game early coming out the second half was field position."
Jamal Lomax led Las Vegas in rushing with 135 yards on 19 carries, and the Wildcat defense used their quickness to stop Hug at the line of scrimmage. Quarterback O'Ryan Bradley added 28 rushing yards and passed for 21 on six completions.
Complimenting Hug's 18 yards of rushing, Darryl Feemster completed just five passes for 51 yards, including a costly interception. Gabe Dobbins led the Hawks in rushing with 34 yards.
"We never could get things rolling offensively," Stallworth said.
Nevertheless, Stallworth felt proud of his team's efforts in getting to the title game.
"I'm extremely proud of them today," he added. "I'll probably be more proud of them tomorrow and the next day. I just don't want those kids to think that this is it. It's tough for them and they're going to learn from this. This is a great experience and a great ride."
After Las Vegas scored on Lomax's 16-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, Hug marched down the field in the second quarter and brought the ball to the Wildcats' 17-yard line.
Two plays later, Colin Pretlow leaped in the air and intercepted Feemster's pass seven yards deep in the end zone and returned it 56 yards to Hug's 44-yard line.
Both teams failed to score before halftime, but the Wildcats were handed good field position by Hug's punting team.
Lomax rushed over the right tackle for a 44-yard gain to set up Bra dley's 2-yard touchdown run with 7:03 remaining in the third quarter.
"It was huge because we were searching for some type of momentum," Faircloth said about the touchdown. "We knew if we were up two scores, we had a good chance of wining this game."
Another poor punt from Hug spotted the ball on their own 41-yard line.
On the sixth play of the drive, Lomax struck again by plowing through middle for the 8-yard score, giving Las Vegas a 20-0 lead with 3:51 in the third.
On the ensuing kickoff, the Wildcats' Ronald Brown knocked the ball loose from returner Ron Johnson, and Kevin Cormier recovered the ball for Las Vegas on the Hawks' 17-yard line.
Avant Gates nailed a 30-yard field goal to give his team a 23-0 advantage with 1:57 left in the third quarter.