Valwood ‘escapes with a win’ against Tiftarea
HAHIRA –– They came, they saw, they conquered.
The Valwood Valiants (3-2) held off the Tiftarea Panthers (4-1) 21-14 at home for their first region win of the season.
It wasn’t the prettiest win, but, none of Valwood’s wins should be described as pretty.
Their three wins so far have been: 27-13, 22-21, and tonight’s 21-14 win. Even their two losses were by four points and six points.
Keeping it close is something Valwood has done in every game this year, and Head Coach Justin Henderson addressed that following the victory.
“It’s nice to get out 1-0. We escaped with a win, but I don’t care how it happened we’re 1-0 in the region and that’s all that’s important,” said Henderson. “We were up two scores and threw a pick, had a chance to really put them down. We can’t keep letting these teams hang around, that’s what I feel like we do every time we get something going, we stop our own momentum. We’ve got to get out of that habit”
Valwood got the momentum going early in the first quarter.
Running back, Blaine Cooper, put the first points on the board with a touchdown. Aalah Brown then took a fumble to the house for six on the following drive. Valwood was quickly up 14-0 in the first quarter.
But like coach said, they’ll get something rolling and then hurt themselves.
Interceptions and penalties hindered their momentum a number of times throughout this game. To name a couple, what could have been an interception for Valwood was negated for pass interference and a potential touchdown score was underthrown for a Tiftarea interception.
Henderson didn’t speak maliciously about the errors tonight, but he knows they must fix them if they want to keep winning.
“(Tiftarea) is down two scores with eight minutes to go and (we get) a pass interference on a five-yard hitch. That’s just not smart,” said Henderson. “We’ve got to get smarter as a football team, I blame it on Game of Thrones, Game of War. We’ve got the lowest IQ of any football team and that is being addressed daily in practice.”
Tiftarea was and still is a formidable opponent. Valwood knew they’d see a run heavy offense with an abundance of sets, the Panthers did just that and still found success. Running back Adam Mckinney scored their two touchdowns of the night and stayed busy on the ground.
The run game was taxing Valwood’s defense but Brown’s fumble recovery for a score, Michael Tucker’s interception, and his forced fumble stopped three of Tiftarea’s drives from potentially scoring. Valwood’s defense needed to step up today, and they did in a big way.
“(Our players) did everything we asked them to do tonight, we just happened to come up short,” said Tiftarea coach Michael Soliday. “Nobody really gave us a chance, I don’t think, coming in. Valwood got a few new players this year and I don’t think anybody was giving us a chance, we came out here and played our butts off and did everything we could tonight.”
For Valwood, Cooper ended the night with two rushing touchdowns and Bay Moorman finished with six tackles. Brown was quiet offensively but made his presence felt with the fumble recovery for a touchdown, his fifth touchdown scored this season.
Valwood will enjoy the weekend with their first region victory and begin next week prepping for their road trip to Creekside Christian Academy (0-5).