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August 19, 2012
The Palo Verde Panthers showed the physicality that has made them one of the elite teams in Nevada over the last decade giving Arizona's Desert Vista a scare in the Sollenberger Classic.
After allowing the Thunder to march down field for a 9-yard Jarek Hilgers run during the second quarter, the Panthers responded with a 71-yard run up the middle by Lee Griggs to tie the score on the next play.
On the next drive however, Griggs went down for the rest of the half with a leg injury and the Panthers offense began to struggle. The Panthers were able to get a few turnovers defensively with the final one before the half leading to a 23-yard Tom Randall field goal to take a 10-7 lead into the half.
The third quarter saw the Thunder pull away as quarterback Matthew Young completed a short pass to Austin Hicks, Hicks proceeded to break a couple of tackles in racing to the end zone from 47 yards out to move ahead 14-10.
Another march down the field capped by a Zach Gonzalez 1-yard plunge gave the Thunder a 20-10 lead the Panthers weren't able to overcome.
For the Panthers, they dropped back to pass often than in the past with many attempts coming on first down with 5/18 attempts ending in sacks will they also threw two interceptions as well. They only passed for 55-yards in the game with 36-yards coming from a Jake Ortale reception late in the first half.
Griggs proved to be the only effective running back out of the Panthers backfield in game one, they now move on to prepare to take on the Centennial Bulldogs in two weeks.
The Moapa Valley Pirates provided a stronger battle than Blue Ridge (AZ) would prefer but couldn't come out with a victory.
Big plays by Blue Ridge's Ben Watson turned the tide as Watson intercepted two passes returning one 34-yards for a first half score as well as opened scoring with a 70-yard sprint to the end zone off of a Skyler Hill pass.
A second half field goal and Bradley Syth score was enough to lock the game away.
For Moapa Valley, it was still an impressive showing overall were they controlled the game at points and their line did a good job of controlling the point of attack. Facing a top defense, Mortensen still logged over 100-yards rushing and the Pirates never gave Blue Ridge a level of comfort in the game.