Pershing County's Jessy Gonzalez interrupts a pass from Lincoln County at the 2A semifinals.
Pershing County's Jessy Gonzalez interrupts a pass from Lincoln County at the 2A semifinals.
After three winning seasons, the 2A state trophy slipped from the Pershing County football team’s grasp on Saturday in Panaca.

The Mustangs faced Lincoln County in the NIAA 2A State Semifianls and suffered a 36-0 defeat. Meanwhile, in Yerington, the Lions beat Needles 208-14. 

As a result, Yerington and Lincoln County will vie for the NIAA 2A state championship in Carson City this Saturday, while. Pershing Countyclosed its 2019 season.

The Mustangs were disappointed but took the loss in stride. Soon the year-round athletes will bound onto the basketball court or hit the wrestling mats. Later, they’ll step up to bat or compete in track and field. Life and high school athletics goes on.

“We had some costly plays, and Lincoln County capitalized in a big way,” said Coach Mike Brooks. “They were able to gain momentum, and we were not able to get it back. The Lynxes played a great game. I give them credit.”

Mason Thornock played the last football game of his high school career for the Lynxes. Cody Zile will be back for more in 2020. 

Both led Lincoln County one step closer to the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow- the NIAA 2A state championship. To get it, they’ll have to knock off Yerington.

On defense, Thornock made six tackles, picked off a pass and recovered a fumble. Offensively, he rushed 14 times for 91 yards for two touchdowns. 

He also intercepted six passes for 123 yards and a touchdown.

It must have seemed like old home week to Cody Zile, Lincoln’s 6’3’’ quarterback. 

Before moving to Panaca in his sophomore year, Zile played football, basketball and ran track for Pershing County. On Saturday, he battled his friends and former teammates.

Zile went 10-for-13 for 176 yards and a touchdown.

““We had a slow start, but improved each week,”  said Mike Brooks at the completion of his second year as head coach. “Although the loss was difficult, the season as a whole was successful,” he added.

Pershing County ended the season 7-4 overall and 6-2 in the 2A Northern League.

For Sebastien Donaldson,  one memory stands out above all others.  

“For me, the high point was beating Battle Mountain in the first round of the playoffs,” said the graduating senior.

After a devastating (42-6) loss to Battle Mountain earlier in the season, the Mustangs bounced back. They beat the Longhorns in the first round of the state competition (20-8). Donaldson solidified the win, with 90 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Caleb Nolf (#25) threw in a 83-yard interception return.

Several players stepped up from JV to varsity for postseason. Esteban Vidrio, Ulises Corona, Wyatt Diaz, Victor Flores, Brayden Wagner, Noel Zaldivar, Jose Jimenez, Ashton Nolf and Devin Moura battled the Longhorns and Lincoln County. Moura played cornerback and backed up Raul Rincon , Pershing County’s junior quarterback.

Now, the Mustangs say goodbye to four senior standouts – Caleb Nolf, Chris Fly-Knopf), JC Astle  and Donaldson.

But the program has a solid foundation of underclassmen. Dmitri Zveniatckovskii, Jessy Gonzalez, Diego Gonzalez, Colton Wanner, Nik Pavlov, Mariano Gomez, Logan Oberman, Daniel Reitz, Hayden Burrows, Jordan Gentry, Efrem Razov and Zeke Jackson will carry the torch in 2020 – perhaps all the way to the 2A state championship. You never know.

“The kids have a lot to be proud of,” said Brooks.