Longhorn football team falls short of goal, knocked off by Pershing County

Longhorn football team falls short of goal, knocked off by Pershing County

Longhorn football team falls short of goal, knocked off by Pershing County

WINNEMUCCA — The Battle Mountain High School Longhorns battled with the Pershing County High School Mustangs for the state championship game on the Lowry High School football field in Winnemucca on Saturday afternoon.

The long-time rivals took the field in hopes of winning the Northern 2A State Championship game. The Longhorns and Mustangs fans traveled in droves to support their teams, resulting in an intense and eager atmosphere in the stadium.

The game itself did not disappoint, with a classic back-and-forth battle between the Longhorns and Mustangs that once again showcased each school's football program. The Mustangs took the first possession of the game, then drove down to the Longhorn 5-yard line, before the Longhorns forced a fumble and recovered the ball deep in their red zone.

On the following drive, the Longhorns scored first, with a 26-yard field goal by kicker Nestor Miramontes. After the Longhorns held the Mustangs to a punt, they scored again with quarterback Gabe Naveran completing the 16-yard touchdown pass to receiver Bobby Kester, bringing the Battle Mountain lead to 10-0 early in the second quarter.

The Mustangs responded on fourth down, with one yard to go. Running back Jayce Leyva broke loose for a 36-yard touchdown. The Mustangs cut the Longhorns lead to 10-7.

Battle Mountain took a commanding lead in the first half after two Longhorn touchdowns on fourth down plays. The first score was a 22-yard touchdown pass from Naveran to Kester for the second time in the game.

After a Mustang punt, the Longhorns scored again on a 29-yard touchdown pass from Naveran to wide receiver Reese Artz. The score was the third in a row by both teams to happen on a fourth down play. It brought the Longhorn lead to 24-7.

Before the end of the half, the Mustangs threw up a deep pass that was tipped by Longhorn defender Mason Fuller right into the hands of Mustang receiver Owen Bake for the 43-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Derek Sandusky. At the end of the half, the Longhorns led the game by a score of 24-14.

Battle Mountain opened the second half with a long drive that took them into the Mustangs red zone before failing to convert on fourth and long and turning the ball over on downs. The Mustangs slowly chipped away at the lead and scored on a 64-yard touchdown run by Leyva. The Longhorns lead was brought down to three, 24-21 at the end of the third quarter.

Battle Mountain, despite the intense effort and efficient drives throughout the second half, were not able to score again in the game. The defense stepped up though and was locked in a defensive battle in the second half.

With six minutes to go in the contest, the Mustangs ended the Longhorns’ drive with an interception by Lane Condie. Pershing County capitalized on the turnover with a scoring drive, which was capped off with a 2-yard touchdown run by Leyva to give the Mustangs the lead for the first time in the game.

The Mustangs led the Longhorns 28-24 with 2:30 left in the game. The Longhorn offense now faced a similar situation as they had against Needles, the previous week.

Naveran looked ready for his opportunity to win the game. Unfortunately for the Longhorns, the following kickoff bounced off the Longhorn returner's helmet, and the Mustangs recovered the ball.

Pershing County ran the clock with less than a minute to go when Sandusky tossed a 19-yard touchdown pass to Condie late in the fourth quarter. The Mustangs would win the game and the 2A state champion title by the score of 35-24.

“I thought our kids played a great game and Lovelock played a great game, too,” Longhorn head coach Mitch Domagala said after the game, “These are strong kids, it will hurt for awhile, but they will look back and realize how great of a season they had. This one game doesn’t define them. The whole season defined them.”

With Pershing County coaches David McLean and Lance Condie retiring, Coach Domagala recognized their performance over the years.

“Anytime you go against Coach McLean and Coach Condie it is going to be a heck of a game,” Domagala said. “You know you are going to play against a class act. They are, by far, two of the best coaches northern Nevada has ever seen.”

Despite the loss, next season the Longhorns should be a tough team again, with 12 juniors expected to return to the field for their senior year.