VALLEY — The football novelty of defense winning championships may have been proven at Valley High School in front of the large homecoming crowd. The Valley Indians (6-0) allowed a total of 207 yards and forced two turnovers against the Waverly Tigers (1-5) coming out victorious 35-7 over the visitors.
Valley was able utilize their defense right from the start, recovering a botched snap and recovering the fumble on the Tigers third play from scrimmage deep in their own territory.
The Indians were able to capitalize, taking only two plays to score the ball games first touchdown. Setup by a 31-yard run by Zach Shope, running back Nate Arnett punched it in from the 3-yard-line for the score with 10:22 left in the first quarter.
Arnett finished the game with 125 yards on 17 carries and one touchdown.
However, on the next possession the Tigers clawed back. On a third-and-16, senior quarterback Trevon Bolin-Hitchens connected with Dilon Murray on a slant route up the middle and took it in the end zone for 69 yards, tying the game at 7-7 with 9:06 left in the first quarter.
“Our kids came out and that was a great first half and they got after it,” Waverly coach Rusty Wright said.
Bolin-Hitchens accounted for 115 passing yards in the first half, completing 5-of-8 passes and a touchdown. Murray added two receptions for 87 yards and a score as he seemed to be Bolin-Hitchens favorite target.
“We always have known that he stands up and has a big arm,” Wright said. “I think our receivers stepped up tonight and we never have any doubt in Trevon and he threw the ball extremely well.”
In nine plays and less than three minutes the crowd witnessed two scores and a fumble as the teams exchanged possessions the remainder of the quarter and tied at 7-7.
“I think defensive we gave up the one big play early but other than that we did a nice job defensively,” Indians coach Darren Crabtree said.
With the game knotted, Valley’s Brandon Jordan, who had 42 yards on six carries and a score, finally broke the tie.
On the Indians tenth play from scrimmage on their first drive in the quarter, Jordan took the ball up the middle for a 13-yard touchdown with 9:10 left in the half.
After a blocked point after attempt by Waverly, Valley led 13-7.
With Waverly again driving to tie the game, Valley turned to their defense once again. On a second-and-10 for the Tigers, Bolin-Hitchens dropped back and fired the ball to the end zone.
The ball found the arms of Valley’s defensive back, Brice Jordan coming up with a key defensive stop.
Valley entered halftime leading 13-7 allowing 20 rushing yards on 12 attempts from the Tigers.
“We did a real nice job defensively stopping the running game and really doing a pretty good job in pass coverage,” Crabtree said.
The Indians wasted no time in the second half to increase their lead. On their first possession in the second half, Valley’s starting quarterback Will Howard took the team down the field for a seven play 55-yard drive.
Howard capped it off by scoring on a second-and-18 quarterback draw from 18-yards with 8:49 remaining in the third quarter.
After a false start penalty, Howard found an open Arnett for the 2-point conversion, giving Valley a 21-7 lead. Howard finished the ball game with 14 carries and 85 yards with a score.
“He (Howard) gives us another running back at the quarterback position,” Crabtree said.
After another defensive stop by the Indians forcing a punt, Valley got another chance to extend their lead.
Senior running back, Matt Rawlings, who finished with five carries, 72 yards and two touchdowns all in the second half, capped off the drive with a 2-yard score. The touchdown gave Valley a commanding 28-7 lead with 5:45 left in the third quarter.
Entering the fourth quarter and generating a total of 44-yards of offense in the third quarter, the Tigers needed a spark plug. With Valley driving towards the end zone again, defensive back Eric Rinehart stepping in-front of a pass from Howard and intercepting the ball.
“They battled their butts off tonight right to the end,” Wright said.
Trailing 28-7 Waverly continued to fight and Rinehart gave the ball back to the Tigers trailing by 21.
However, the Indians defense proved to be too much for Waverly to handle. Forcing back-to-back three-and-outs as Waverly totaled 70 yards of offense in the second half.
“I thought the second half we came out and took over defensively and we have got to come out and be ready for next week,” Crabtree said.
Rawlings, however, accounted for 28 rushing yards in the final drive of the Indians night. He capped the drive off with an 8-yard run, his second score of the evening and giving Valley a 35-7 lead with 2:42 left.
“He has been able to do that for us all year, Matt has the ability to come in and give us some big plays,” Crabtree said.
The Tigers never gave up as Bolin-Hitchens, who finished the game with 151 passing yards and a touchdown as well as 34 rushing yards on 10 carries, broke free for a 45-yard run in the final minute.
“We came in tonight and every kid gave everything they have and that is all you can ask of these kids,” Wright said.
Time wasn’t on Waverly’s side and the Indians went on to win their 16th straight regular season win.
“To be 6-0 and to this point in the season and to win our first league game we’re happy to be where we are at,” Crabtree said.
Valley will travel to take on West in what will be a rematch of the game that decided the SOC II in a 28-20 victory for the Indians last season. Waverly will play host to the Wheelersburg Pirates in Week 8.
Waverly 7 0 0 0 7
Valley 7 6 15 7 35
10:22 V- Arnett 3 run (Holbrook kick) 7-0
9:06 W- Murray 69 pass from Bolin-Hitchens (Bevens kick) 7-7
9:10 V- Jordan 13 run (Kick blocked) 13-7
8:49 V- Howard 18 run (Arnett pass from Howard) 21-7
5:45 V- Rawlins 2 run (Ramanello kick) 28-7
2:42 V- Rawlins 8 run (Ramanello kick) 35-7
First Downs 9 21
Total Net Yards 194 370
Rushes-yards 24-48 47-362
Passing 151 8
Comp-Att-Int 10-18-1 0-5-1
Punts-yards 4-34 3-44.3
Fumbles-lost 1-1 2-0
Penelties-yards 4-45 6-52
RUSHING: Waverly- Dray 3-3; Murray 3-10; Gilbert 4 -7; Bolin-Hitchens 10-34; Pearl 2-3;
Valley- Jordan 6-42, TD; Shope 2-33; Arnett 17-125, TD; Howard 14-85, TD; B. Jordan 3-5; Rawlins 5-72, 2TD.
PASSING: Waverly- Bolin-Hitchens 10-18-1-151-TD; Valley- Howard 0-5-1
RECEIVING: Waverly- Rinehart 5-39; Underwood 3-33; Murray 2-87, TD.