Gators get their kicks in 42-41 OT win over Palo Verde

Green Valley kicker Conor Perkins will be delivering a bit of good news to UNLV head coach Bobby Hauck at tonight’s Rebel game against Western Michigan at Sam Boyd Stadium.

Perkins, who also was being recruited by Utah, Utah State and Boise State, said he has decided to accept a scholarship offer from Hauck and take over the kicking duties currently held by another Green Valley product, Nolan Kohorst, next year.

But first things first. Perkins kicked the winning PAT in overtime to help the Gators (2-2) pull out a wild 42-41 win over visiting Palo Verde (1-1) on Friday night.
(STORY CONTINUES BELOW)

In a game that featured four touchdowns in less than seven minutes at the start, special teams played a key role in the outcome.

While Perkins was a perfect 6-for-6 on PATs, Palo Verde’s Bradley Matsukawa missed two extra points, including one after Jaren Campbell put the Panthers ahead on the first possession of overtime, 41-35, with a 4-yard run.

Then it was Green Valley’s turn to try and score from the 10-yard line. After a 3-yard run by Albert Lake, quarterback Christian Lopez hit Markus Varner in the left corner of the end zone to tie it.

“It was a corner (route), and they were playing inside leverage on our No. 2 receiver,” Lopez said. “At the last second we checked out of it. We had another play called but then coach saw it.”

Enter Perkins, who missed his only field goal try of the night – a 61-yarder that was wide left. He had connected on a 60-yarder in warm-ups. Palo Verde jumped offsides before he could get his first game-winning attempt off but the delay didn’t rattle the 5-foot-10, 170-pound senior.

“I prepare for that (delays) a lot,” he said. “It was an easy kick.”

Perkins is the latest prodigy of former UNLV placekicker Daren Libonati, who has helped seven area kickers earn Division I scholarships, including Kohorst and former Rebels Tim O’Reilly and Nick Garritano.

“He’s very, very athletic,” Libonati said. “He’s got a lot of leg speed. I really like his composure. Where he’s at today, he’s right up there at the top. … I think right today Conor might have a little more leg power (than Kohorst), and he’ll transfer over to kicking off the ground probably a little easier.”

The Rebels might also want to keep their eye on Lopez, a strong-armed 6-foot junior who tormented Palo Verde both with his arm and his feet.

Lopez completed 23-of-36 passes for 249 yards and three touchdowns and also had touchdown runs of 5 and 12 yards. Two of his touchdown passes were to senior wide receiver Gio Hernandez, including a 21-yarder in the third quarter just three plays after Matsukawa fumbled a snap on a punt attempt and was tackled short of the first down at Green Valley 26-yard line.

“I just try and stay within my game,” Lopez said. “It’s a great win for our school. (Palo Verde) is a top program.”

Green Valley coach Brian Castro agreed.

“This game was real important,” Castro said. “We knew we didn’t play our best game last week (a 25-21 loss to Coronado). We talk about getting better each week, and I think we did that. It’s a big win for us.”

PHOTO AND VIDEO BY BARRY WONG

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