WINNEMUCCA — The Pershing County High School football team had a target on its back. Every team in northern Nevada wanted to beat the defending state champs. On Saturday in Winnemucca, Battle Mountain tried. They went home as runners-up.
Pershing County finished its season 11-1 and claimed its second consecutive state championship.
Lowry High School hosted the NIAA 2A State Football Championship game under sunny skies. Hometown crowds from Battle Mountain and Lovelock packed both sets of bleachers and spilled into the stands.
For a while it looked like Battle Mountain might grab the trophy. Midway through the second quarter, Pershing County lagged behind by 17 points at 24-7. At the half, the Mustangs still trailed by 10 points, 24-14.
But Pershing County fought their way back from the double-digit deficit to come out on top 35-24, with two touchdowns in the final three minutes of the contest.
“We knew we had the heart to get back in the game,” said Pershing County quarterback Derek Sandusky. “We weren’t going to let up until the final whistle.”
A combination of forces converged to carry the Mustangs over the top. Pershing’s defense came alive in the second half.
“We didn’t let Battle Mountain score even once after the second quarter,” said Sandusky.
Martin Cholico sacked his way through the field. Lane Condie intercepted passes left and right.
“Offensively, we took advantage and scored some huge touchdowns in the fourth quarter,” added Sandusky.
Chuy Acosta recovered a Longhorn fumble at the kickoff. Backed by Pershing County’s offensive line, Jayce Leyva ran like the wind. Owen Bake caught two touchdown receptions from Sandusky.
“I’m extremely proud of every single kid on the team,” said PCHS head coach Dave McLean. “We were up against a great opponent. The way our kids supported each other was amazing.”
For McLean, defensive coordinator Lance Condie, 12 Mustangs and two managers it was a grand finale.
McLean and Condie retire with one more state championship under their belts. Jorge Rosas, Ben and Scott Plimpton, Eric Wagner, Dylan Dragoman, Owen Bake, Ty Gentry, Hunter Burrows, Lupin Gomez, Lane Condie, Martin Cholico and Kris Jackson played the last football game of their high school years.
Team managers Donald Pilon and Brandon Mancebo also graduate this spring.
But the rest of team will come back one year older, wiser and stronger. Several members of the JV squad will step up to varsity. And, once again, the Pershing County Mustangs will go for the gold.