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September 21, 2014

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prep football:

Las Vegas starts slow, races past Cimarron in season opener

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Las Vegas High’s Cameron Rogers celebrates a touchdown against Cimarron-Memorial on Thursday during the first high school football game of the season. Las Vegas won the game 34-15.

Las Vegas vs. Cimarron-Memorial

Las Vegas quarterback Hassan Henderson finds a hole for a touchdown against Cimarron-Memorial on Thursday during the first high school football game of the season. Las Vegas won the game 34-15. Launch slideshow »

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The Las Vegas High football team had a mistake-filled first half Thursday night against visiting Cimarron-Memorial in the season opener for both schools.

Quarterback Hassan Henderson was intercepted on the Wildcats’ first play. He later pitched the ball out of the end zone for a Cimarron safety and fumbled just inches from scoring a touchdown.

Still, the Wildcats never trailed, and when the offense found its rhythm in the second half, they ran away with a 34-15 victory.

While the offense struggled early, the defense was solid throughout. Cimarron only managed four first downs, with the initial first down coming midway through the third quarter.

“Defensively, we played lights out,” Las Vegas coach Chris Faircloth said. “We had a great effort defensively and that gave us a chance to win the game.”

Cimarron gained less than 20 yards in the first half, but took advantage of the Las Vegas turnovers and only trailed 10-2 at halftime.

The Spartans made things interesting in the second half.

Christian Brown, who finished with 38 yards on 14 carries and was clearly Cimarron’s most productive player, scored on a 1-yard touchdown run with 5:58 to play in third quarter to trim the Spartans' deficit to 10-8. They gained their initial first down on the scoring drive.

But Las Vegas scored 24 unanswered points to take a 34-8 lead with 7:46 to play.

Henderson, who completed 19 of 30 passes for 211 yards, had a 7-yard touchdown run to start the outburst. He followed by throwing a screen pass to Cameron Rogers, who raced 39 yards for a touchdown and a 24-8 Las Vegas lead with 8.3 seconds to play in the third.

“I spun away from three (tacklers) and saw nothing except a clear view. I just kept running,” said Rogers, who finished with 10 receptions for 134 yards, in describing his touchdown.

Backup running back Lamond Powe, who impressed with 71 yards on eight carries, continued the scoring with a 4-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.

Sophomore kicker Jay Mattox capped the scoring with a 51-yard field goal. Mattox also made all three extra points he attempted and started the scoring in the first quarter with a 29-yard field goal.

Mattox, who played on the Las Vegas state champion soccer team last year, is welcome addition to the football squad, Faircloth said.

“The kid does that (hit long field goals) all the time in practice. He’s just got a leg,” Faircloth said.

Cimarron found the end zone late when quarterback Gerard Martinez hooked up with Taz Taoipu on an 11-yard scoring strike.

Even though Cimarron faded for parts of the second half, they gave Las Vegas — one of the state’s perennial powers — more than it could handle early.

Half of the Cimarron roster was playing in its first varsity game, and of the roughly 10 returners, only Brown saw significant minutes last year.

“When you consider we had 13 kids playing their first varsity game, we played well tonight,” Cimarron coach Rod Vollan said. “We had a couple of opportunities we couldn’t take advantage of, and when you play a team of Vegas’ caliber, that’s the difference.”

In the end, Cimarron didn’t have answers for Las Vegas’ speed and depth. Farrell Victor, the Wildcats’ speedy tailback, scored the game’s first touchdown on a 77-yard run with 1:19 to play in the second quarter.

Like Rogers on his touchdown, Victor displayed superior athleticism in making several tacklers miss and outracing defenders to the end zone.

If only the effort from the offensive players was more consistent, Faircloth said.

“It was mistake after mistake. Just too many to count,” the coach said. “I don’t know if we were focused. Our playmakers need to start making more plays.”

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