The Dayton High football team looked like it was well on its to another huge offensive day, but then Virgin Valley was able to control the ball.
Dayton's season ended on Saturday in Mesquite as Virgin Valley came back to win 26-14 in the NIAA 3A State semifinals. Virgin Valley will face Truckee in the 3A state title game this Saturday at Mackay Stadium.
"It's tough to swallow," Dayton coach Rick Walker said. "It's going to hurt for a while."
But it was also Dayton's first trip to the state playoffs. "We've improved every year," Walker said. "If we keep doing that we're going to be there. I'm pretty proud of the kids. They've made it farther than we've ever been before."
Dayton led 14-7 after one quarter on Travis Wood's 40-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Stokes and Erik Hopper's 1-yard scoring run. Hopper's score was set up by Wood's 28-yard pass to Stokes.
But after the first quarter, Virgin Valley took over with its ball control offense. Virgin Valley scored twice in the second quarter to take a 20-14 halftime lead and limited Dayton to nine plays in the period. "They just ran the ball a ton," Walker said. "They get four or five yards a whack."
Virgin Valley scored early in the third quarter on a halfback pass to make it 26-14. "They used almost the entire third quarter, too," Walker said.
Dayton was able to put together a drive at the end of the game after being pinned back at its 1-yard line on a punt. The Dust Devils drove inside the Virgin Valley 5 when time ran out.
Due to Virgin Valley's ball control offense and the fact that Dayton had to come back, Hopper was effectively taken out of the game as he gained 12 yards on eight carries. But Hopper did have three catches for 48 yards.
Wood and Stokes had huge games as Wood completed 20-of-35 passes for 240 yards and Stokes had 10 catches for 154 yards. Brandon Aguilera added 44 yards on eight carries.
The Dayton Nation was also present in full force, with more than 200 fans. "It was awesome," Walker said.