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Pirates can't keep up with NV's Guthrie

PHOENIX -- Bouncing around on a field where just about everybody outweighedhim, often by 70 pounds or more, North Valley senior Terry Guthrie had justthe perfect antidote: Speed.

Whenever the Knights needed something special in Friday night's SkylineConference football opener against Phoenix, the 5-foot-9, 145-pound receiverwas there to pull the rabbit out of the hat.

Guthrie caught four passes for 81 yards and twice slipped past the Phoenixsecondary for touchdowns. Then when the Pirates were poised for a comeback,he shifted gears and outraced the Pirates 88 yards on a kickoff return asthe 10th-ranked Knights overcame Skyline favorite Phoenix for a 27-17 triumphat Jack Woodward Stadium.

This was a very big win for us because Phoenix was picked to winour conference, said Guthrie, who finished third in the 200 metersat the Class 3A state track meet last spring.

Guthrie hauled in a 30-yard pass with a finger-tip catch in the rightcorner of the end zone, beating Brandon Lillis for a touchdown that gaveNorth Valley the lead with 33 seconds remaining in the second quarter.

They asked me if I could beat the guy on a fly pattern and I said`Yeah, no problem.' He wasn't getting into his backpedal and I was ableto go around him, Guthrie said.

Although the Pirates played very well defensively at times, they weredoomed by six turnovers.

The Pirates were also flagged seven times for 77 yards -- including onethat nullified a touchdown run that would have put the Pirates up by 11points late in the first half.

The Knights survived a turnover deep in their own territory then tookcommand midway through the third quarter with a seven-play, 73-yard drive.A pass interference penalty gave North Valley a first down at the Phoenix35. Then Knight quarterback Scott Stickler found Guthrie lonesome once more.

It was the same thing, said Guthrie. I was open theplay before (away from the interference) and told them I could beat 'em,no problem.

Phoenix came back with an impressive nine-play, 66-yard march to pullwithin 20-17. The big play of the drive was James Moore's four-yard runthat gave the Pirates a first down at the North Valley 23. The 5-foot-11,170-pound Moore took a pitch on the right side and was immediately grabbedby a pair of North Valley defenders. But he wriggled free and broke fivetackles before he was brought down.

That wasn't just anybody that had him, Phoenix coach JoeHagler said. That was (Joe) Bleak and (Brad) Kudlac -- their besttwo defensive players.

Three plays later, tight end Dan Dickson found himself open in the middleof the end zone and Esselstrom connected for a 15-yard TD pass.

David Grantland's kick reduced the deficit to three points.

But Guthrie shredded the Pirates' comeback hopes when he fielded Grantland'sensuing kickoff at the 12 and started toward the right sideline. He slippedalong the way, but it didnt' matter, because no Phoenix defender got nearhim until he turned upfield.

There was one guy there and I knew I had him beat, Guthriesaid.

I think that was the back breaker, personally said Dickson.Big plays like that are what kill teams.

The Pirates regrouped and drove down to the North Valley 10, but whenEsselstrom threw for Ray Castillo end the end zone, Jeff Reese picked offthe toss with 6:52 to play.

He thought he found an open man, but I was in the right place atthe right time, Reese said.

After Phoenix stung North Valley with a 49-yard touchdown pass from Esselstromto Castillo on the second play from scrimmage the Pirates looked in fineform. But an interception on their next possession followed by a fumblenegated the fast start.

The Knights pulled to within 7-6 on Strickland's 13-yard screen passto Brad Kudlac before Grantland gave the Pirates a 10-6 lead with a 35-yardfield goal.

North Valley 0 13 14 0 -- 27

Phoenix 7 — 7 0 -- 17

P -- Castillo 49 pass from Esselstrom (Grantland kick)

NV -- Kudlac 13 pass from Stickler (kick blocked)

P -- Grantland 35 field goal

NV -- Guthrie 30 pass from Stickler (Wheelock kick)

NV -- Guthrie 35 pass from Stickler (Wheelock kick)

P -- Dickson 15 pass from Esselstrom (Grantland kick)

NV -- Guthrie 82 kickoff return (Wheelock kick)

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