Whittell football beats Virginia City 18-14, takes first-place showdown
VIRGINIA CITY, Nev. — In a showdown for first place in Div. IV West League, the Whittell football team rose to the occasion. The Warriors went on the road and beat Virginia City 18-14 on Saturday, Oct. 17, a victory that gives them the inside track to a league championship.
“It was a big win for us, especially since it was at their place,” Warriors coach Phil Bryant said. “Virginia City is a very good team and we were proud to go in there and get a win — all the coaches did a great job getting ready for this game.”
Whittell (7-0, 6-0 IV West) scored on its first two possessions, and had a 12-0 lead after the opening quarter. After recovering a fumble at Virginia City’s 14-yard line on the opening drive, the Warriors struck first on a 5-yard touchdown run from Corey Huber two minutes into the game.
Following a punt from Virginia City (5-2, 4-1) on the ensuing drive, Whittell again took advantage of a short field. The Warriors started on the Muckers’ 25-yard line, and eventually took a two-score lead when Dismas Womack found the end zone from 7 yards out.
Virginia City took the next drive deep into Whittell territory, but came away with no points. Corey Huber intercepted a Muckers pass at the 3-yard line, a play that kept the Warriors up 12-0 as the first quarter came to a close.
Early in the second quarter, the Muckers got on the board on the first play after Whittell muffed a punt. Price Poston scored on a 28-yard run that cut the Warriors’ lead to 12-6 with 10 minutes left in the half.
Both teams traded scores in the last two minutes of the second quarter, and Whittell had an 18-14 lead at the break. Corey Huber scored from 10 yards out to put the Warriors ahead by 12, then Virginia City answered with an 80-yard touchdown run from Poston followed by a two-point conversion run from Isaiah Yoder.
Following a back-and-forth opening two quarters, Whittell held on for the victory in a scoreless second half. Early in the fourth quarter, the Warriors had the chance to put the game away but turned the ball over on an interception in the end zone.
After the interception, Whittell stopped three Virginia City drives to secure the victory. Late in the game, Kai Mangiaracina switched up a defensive call on third-and-short to line up Quinn Kixmiller over the center that led to a stop on a quarterback sneak — on the next play, Mangiaracina, Kixmiller and Caleb Moretti combined to stop the Muckers fullback short of a first down.
“Our defense really played exceptionally well,” Bryant said. “Coach Patton had his defense well prepared and we were on top of their ground game from the very start.”
Kixmiller finished with 11 tackles and two sacks in the win, Mangiaracina was in on 14 tackles and had a sack, Moretti was in on 11 tackles to go along with an interception, and Aubrey Felton was in on 11 tackles. Connor Huber added two sacks.
Whittell’s offense scored three touchdowns before halftime in the win, but mistakes kept it from pulling away. The Warriors had three scores called back on penalties, and just missed on several deep passing opportunities.
Quarterback Colin Buchholz finished 7-for-17 passing with 102 yards and an interception against the Muckers. Corey Huber ran for 164 yards on 29 carries, Womack finished with 45 yards on nine carries and Connor Huber added 15 yards on three carries.
“We made some line spacing adjustments going in to the game,” Bryant said. “That seemed to help our linemen with blocking angles and reads.”
For Virginia City, Poston finished with 164 yards and two touchdowns on nine carries. Yoder was 5-of-16 passing with 55 yards and two interceptions.
With one league game left in its season, Whittell is on the verge of securing a league championship. After playing a nonleague contest at North Tahoe (0-8) on Saturday, Oct. 24, Whittell concludes its regular season with a league game at home against Smith Valley on Thursday, Oct. 29.
“We are happy to be in the driver’s seat for a league championship,” Bryant said. “But we understand we have to win one more league game to guarantee a title.”
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