RENO - Bishop Manogue High School found its way into the end zone only once during a windy and chilly NIAA/U.S. Bank 3A state championship football game Saturday afternoon.
As it turned out, Manogue's defense made those points stand up, as the Miners held on for a 7-6 victory against Moapa Valley before an overflow crowd of nearly 4,000 at Miners' Field.
Jeremy Clarke caught a 13-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Pat Reilly with 1:29 left before halftime, and Reilly kicked the all-important PAT to give Manogue the points needed to bring home its first state football championship since 1988 and to cap off the school's first-ever 12-0 season.
Meanwhile, defensive end Michael Yenick led a charge that allowed one touchdown - on Adam Mora's 60-yard reception from Courtney May in the fourth quarter - but stopped three other Moapa Valley threats in the second half.
"The defense really stepped up today," Yenick said. "They put up 49 points against Truckee last week, so for them to come in here and score only six, I think that says something."
Moments after Moapa Valley scored its touchdown, opportunity knocked once again when Brent Bowler intercepted a pass at Manogue's 32. Four plays later, the Pirates had first-and-goal at the 10.
"When they got the ball that close, we didn't panic," first-year Manogue head coach Bill Branca said. "We know our seniors and our defense will get it done. And they did."
May's first-down pass intended for Michael Attig was batted down at the goal line. Then on a second-down sweep, Clarke tackled Brian Adams for a 1-yard loss. On the next play, Manogue's Darby Jones tipped a pass intended for Attig in the end zone and grabbed the interception with 4:05 left.
"The fourth quarter is our quarter," Yenick said. "Nobody is going to beat us in our house and our quarter."
Moapa Valley was going for the end zone all the way, according to coach Jeff Knutson.
"We haven't had a lot of success in that area, we only kicked one field goal all year, so we were going for the touchdown all the way," Knutson said. "And we felt our best chance to score was by passing. We had the state high jump champion (Attig) at wide receiver and we wanted to see if we could throw it up there for him."
That idea worked earlier in the quarter when May threw his touchdown pass to Mora into a stiff wind. The score made it 7-6, but then Moapa Valley was assessed a 15-yard penalty for excessive celebration. May's pass for two points was batted down in the end zone.
"That hurt us. Not only did we have to take a timeout, it just threw us off," Knutson recalled.
The Pirates had no intentions of kicking the PAT to tie the score, anyway.
"We were going to fake the PAT and go for two," Knutson said. "We were gonna go for the win."
Moapa Valley came away empty handed on two other drives in the third quarter. The Pirates drove to the 12, but Attig's 37-yard field goal attempt with the wind at his back sailed wide right. At the end of the period, the Pirates had second-and-1 at the 16, but Yenick stopped Adams for a seven-yard loss, and then the threat died on back-to-back incomplete passes.
"Manogue played great defense in the red zone today," Knutson said. "They did a good job of controlling the line of scrimmage and pressuring our quarterback."
Yenick was in on five plays that resulted in losses, including two sacks. When Moapa Valley got the ball back for one last play at the end of the game, Yenick ran down May for a 21-yard sack.
Seven backs carried the ball as Manogue rushed for 252 yards. Toby Gansert led the attack with 104 yards on 16 carries.
Adams led Moapa Valley with 105 yards on 25 carries. Adams had rushed for 1,293 yards and 20 touchdowns coming into the final. May had passed for 1,255 yards coming in, but was limited to a 5-for-16 and 93-yard performance by the Miners.