Virgin Valley ran the ball 55 times against Sparks Friday night and came away with its first win of the season, a 27-7 decision over the Railroaders.
The Bulldogs' only non-running play that garnered them yardage was a screen pass late in the fourth quarter that went for 44 yards.
And even then if the entire Sparks defense hadn't lined up in the box to defend the run and ignored the wide receiver on the outside, the play might not have materialized.
But it did materialize and Virgin Valley quarterback Humberto Urias connected with Daniel Gleave, who took it down to the Sparks 2-yard line. Two plays later, running back Richard Vidal punched it in from a yard out for his second TD of the second half and the Bulldogs' final score with 6:07 to play in the game.
Sparks did a good job controlling the Bulldog offense in the first half considering the visitors from Mesquite only racked up 101 yards and ran 20 more plays from scrimmage than the Railroaders before the break.
Virgin Valley struck first in the game with 58 seconds showing on the first-quarter clock. The ninth straight run play of the drive saw Urias take it into the end zone from 1 yard out on fourth-and-goal.
While the Bulldogs' offense killed a lot of time off the clock each possession, the Maroon and Gold was able to get an equalizer before halftime when quarterback Joe Puccinelli hooked up with wide receiver Bryan Orellana for a 34-yard touchdown reception.
Orellana laid out backwards and hauled in the toss on third-and-7 with 6:04 remaining in the first half. Rico Bravo's PAT tied the score at 7-7.
But that was as good as it got for Sparks.
"We couldn't get a stop," Sparks football coach Rob Kittrell said. "They're better than us up front. They executed better than us."
To open the second half, Virgin Valley trekked 86 yards on 11 run plays for the go-ahead score on a 3-yard QB keeper by Urias.
That first drive showed Virgin Valley had found the weakness in Sparks' defense, but the Railroaders would get the chance to see if the same would be true for them.
Sparks' offense picked up momentum on the ensuing drive, picking up 25 yards on the first four plays.
But the Virgin Valley pressure finally got to Puccinelli and he was sacked on back-to-back plays to force a punt. That would be the theme of the second half as Sparks accumulated only 20 yards of offense in the second half thanks to four sacks.
"We had a couple breakdowns in pass protection that killed us," Kittrell said. "Give them credit. It seemed like they had 15 guys on defense, all of them blitzing. It's a very difficult defense to attack with as much as they blitz. It's something we haven't seen and it's something we probably won't see again."
Virgin Valley made it 2-for-2 by scoring on its second possession of the second half. Vidal capped an eight-play, 57-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run. The two-point conversion was no good, leaving the score 20-7 with 11:57 left in the game.
The clock was no longer on Sparks' side and the home team had to go for it on fourth-and-4. However, Angel Guillen was hit in the backfield and could not reach the first-down marker, setting up the Bulldogs' third straight score.
Urias had 104 yards rushing which surpassed Sparks' team total for yards.
Now at 1-2 on the season, Kittrell said he's disappointed with how the season is progressing, but the Railroaders will get a chance to turn it around when they open their 3A North schedule at Dayton Friday night.