WEST PORTSMOUTH — It wasn’t the thriller that decided the SOC II from a season ago, but Valley’s 30-0 victory over hosting West was poignant as Indians coach Darren Crabtree matched a mark set by area coaching legend and standard-setter Ed Miller.
Crabtree moved even with Miller in career victories with a single SOC school with 173 Friday evening.
The Valley Indians (7-0, 2-0) proved to be too much for the West Senators (2-5, 0-2). The Indians used three touchdown passes from Will Howard (5-11 138 yards and three touchdowns, 14 carries with 40 yards) and a strong defensive showing to win the game, 30-0.
It was only a matter of seconds before Valley drew first blood. On the first drive of the game and only the third play from scrimmage Howard dropped back and placed a pass right over the West defenders out-stretched arm, connecting with wide out Ethan Clark Holbrook.
The two connected for a 53-yard passing touchdown with 11:02 left in the first quarter as the Indians took a quick 7-0 lead in the opening minute of the game.
“Will did a nice job tonight when we had to throw the ball, he came through for us tonight, ” Crabtree said.
After both teams exchanged possessions with defensive stops West gained control of the ball down seven. Starting on their own 40-yard line the Senators controlled the ball for five minutes and 15 seconds and 12 plays.
However, West was unable to capitalize as several penalties forced them to punt the ball away.
“They’re an excellent football team and they played played good defense, “ West coach Merril Triplett said.
West defense again forced Howard and the rest of the Indians offense to punt the ball on the ensuing drive, giving the ball back to the Senators once again.
“We played very hard on defense,” Triplett said.
Trailing 7-0 in the second quarter, West fumbled on their second play from scrimmage as Valley’s Zach Shope recovered the ball.
A little over three minutes and seven plays later, the Indians capitalized. Junior running back, Nate Arnett, rush the ball in the end zone from the 4-yard line, giving the Indians a 14-0 lead with 6:35 remaining in the half.
“Arnett had a nice touchdown run and our guys in the backfield ran the extremely well tonight,” Crabtree said. “Our offensive line did a much better job as well as the game wore on.”
Down two scores West needed a play to help jump-start their offense. The Senators starting quarterback, Steven Irwin, found a wide open Luke Morgan for a 31-yard completion.
However, trailing 14-0 and coming to a close in the first half West decided to go for it on fourth-and-18 on Valley’s 38-yard-line. Irwin stepped back and fired the ball to the right sideline only to find a leaping Howard.
Both teams battled defensively in the half as Valley gave up 83 total yards of offense and forced two turnovers. While West allowed 139 total yards of offense and forced three punts.
Valley entered halftime with a 14-0 lead.
Valley’s defense came out in the second half with the same intensity as the first half. The Senators again had another long drive that began the second half only to come up empty when the Indians forced a turnover-on-downs.
“We shot ourselves in the foot a couple of times but our kids played hard,” Triplett said.
Matt Rawlins, who is becoming Valley’s closer in the second half, quickly made his presence known. On the Indians first drive in the second half, Rawlins accounted for 36 yards on three carries.
Rawlins finished with 60 yards on seven carries all in the second half for Valley.
“Rawlins came in the second half and gave us some big runs,” Crabtree said.
However, on their own 4-yard-line, Rawlins fumbled the ball right before breaking the goal line plane as the Senators recovered, keeping the game at 14-0.
Luckily for the Indians, West had the ball on the 1-yard line and the first play turned into what every Senator wanted to avoid. A quarterback sack in the end zone for a safety with 4:43 left in the third quarter handed Valley a 16-0 lead.
“After we got the safety and good field position after the punch and were able to score it took a lot out of West,” Crabtree said. “It was a big play [safety] in the middle of the third quarter that turned the momentum.”
After the punt, Valley started their drive on their own 42-yard line. Ten plays later it was Howard again finding an open teammate. On a 3rd-and-18 from the 27-yard line, Howard dropped back and found Arnett to the left as he broke a few tackles and scored from 27-yards.
It was Howard’s second touchdown toss of the evening and giving the Indians a 23-0 lead with 55 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
“He [Howard] not only hurt them with his feet but with his arm,” Crabtree said.
After the defense forced a turnover-on-downs, Howard was right back at it. With 8:04 remaining in the game Howard tossed the ball in the air for wide out Jordan West. What seemed to be more of a jump ball West hauled in 9-yard pass giving Howard his third touchdown pass of the evening and extended the lead to 30-0.
“Defensively to get a shutout tonight I thought our kids had a tremendous game and our guys made a lot of big plays,” Crabtree said. “A total team effort tonight.”
After the game Crabtree was appreciative of his career record at Valley coming into a tie with Ed Miller’s career record at Wheelersburg, but succinct.
“I just hope we can keep it going next week,” Crabtree said.
Valley, who now has won 17 straight regular season games, will travel to Northwest to take Mohawks in Week 8. For West, the will travel to Waverly to take on the Tigers in a game where both teams will be looking for their first conference win.
Valley 7 7 9 7 30
Portsmouth West 0 0 0 0 0
11:02 V- Holbrook 53 pass from Howard (Ramanello kick) 7-0
6:35 V- Arnett 4 run (Ramanello kick) 14-0
4:43 V- Saftey 16-0
:55 V- Arnett 27 pass from Howard (Ramanello kick) 23-0
8:04 V- West 9 pass from Howard (Ramanello kick) 30-0
First Downs 11 8
Total Net Yards 295 148
Rushes-yards 39-157 38-92
Passing 138 56
Comp-Att-Int 5-11-0 3-8-1
Punts-yards 3-37.6 3-33.3
Fumbles-lost 1-1 2-1
Penelties-yards 3-20 4-25
RUSHING_ Valley, Arnett 8-24, B. Jordan 5-22, Howard 14-40, Rawlins 7-60, Shope 1—9, Jordan 4-20. West, Bricker 12-41, Irwin 9-9, Crace 10-28, Koons 5-15, Hurd 1-0, Meadows 1-0.
PASSING_ Valley, Howard 5-11-0 138 3TD, West, Irwin 3-7-1 56, Bricker 0-1.
RUSHING_ Valley, Holbrook 2-86, Arnett 2-43, West 1-9 1 TD