Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Friday, Oct. 26, 2012 | 2:05 a.m.
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Las Vegas Sun sports reporters Ray Brewer and Case Keefer are pumped up for all the high-stakes games going down Thursday night. But why can't they be played on Friday?
When the Green Valley High football team received the ball with less than two minutes remaining Thursday and trailing visiting Canyon Springs by two points, Conor Perkins knew his number would be called.
Perkins, the Gators’ junior place kicker, was reminded by his holder, Quintin Kohorst, that a field goal would win the game.
“I told him, ‘Be ready. You’re going to have to win this,’” Kohorst said. “All the credit goes to Conor. He had the same feeling.”
Green Valley drove about 60 yards in the final seconds, setting up Perkins for a 37-yard attempt with 3.6 seconds left on the clock. He calmly buried the kick through the uprights — with plenty of distance to spare — to give the Gators a dramatic 33-32 victory and the Northeast League crown.
Green Valley scored 16 unanswered points to close the game, erasing a 32-17 deficit in the final 10 minutes to win the school’s first league title since the 1990s. Sophomore quarterback Christian Lopez had two touchdowns in the rally and perfectly orchestrated the 2-minute drill to get into field position for the game-winning kick.
Perkins did the rest to send the players on the Green Valley sideline wildly on the field in celebration of the Gators’ third fourth-quarter rally for a win this season.
“We never gave up. We stuck to the plan,” Perkins said. “I just did my part.”
When most high school kickers become tense attempting such a pressure kick, Perkins didn’t seem bothered.
That’s partially because of his summer practice regimen. He trained alongside Nolan Kohorst, the UNLV kicker and Quintin’s brother, this summer during Green Valley kicking coach Daren Libonati’s retreat in the San Diego area. Quintin, who got his start holding for his brother, was there for every kick in the offseason — a familiarity Libonati has long preached would be beneficial.
“We prepared all summer for this (by) going on vacation and kicking,” said Perkins, who also had six catches for 98 yards. “I told Quintin, ‘Let’s do this. This is what we worked all summer for.’”
While Perkins was the star, he wasn’t a one-man show in erasing the deficit. Lopez had a nifty 23-yard touchdown with 3:41 remaining, scrambling out of the pocket toward the sideline and making two defending miss on his way to the end zone. But Green Valley missed the 2-point conversion and trailed 32-30.
Canyon Springs’ Donnel Pumphrey, who was unstoppable for most of the second and third quarters in scoring five straight touchdowns to give Canyon Springs a lead, rushed the ball deep into Green Valley territory on the ensuing possession and the Pioneers simply needed to run out the clock to win.
However, they lost yardage and turned the ball over on downs at their 28-yard line to setup the winning scoring drive.
Considering Lopez is just a sophomore, and other key contributors are also underclassman, the manner in which Green Valley overcame adversity speaks volumes to potential in next month’s playoffs. They secured a No. 1 seed and play Foothill Nov. 9 at home in the Sunrise Regional quarterfinals.
“They have been there before. We have been doing this all year and finding ways to win,” Green Valley coach Brian Castro said.
Canyon Springs trailed 17-0 with five minutes to play before halftime, and appeared to be in line for a double-digit loss, when Pumphrey returned a kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown to steal the momentum.
Soon, the Canyon Springs players found confidence and used their speed to shutdown the Green Valley offense. Lopez accounted for four touchdowns and nearly 300 yards of total offense, but was ineffective at times during the Canyon Springs scoring swing.
However, if past games have shown anything, it’s that Green Valley never throws in the towel. Earlier this year, they closed with 19 unanswered points to beat Coronado, and also rallied in the second-half against Basic.
Now, they will get a chance to duplicate the success in the postseason.
“It’s awesome for the kids,” Castro said. “It’s a great opportunity to represent our school and prove to everyone how hard we are working.”