PDT Sports Writer
HILLIARD — While most of his teammates are in charge of one jersey number, Alex Loop is one of a few members of the Valley football team that has to bring two jerseys to every game.
In Saturday night’s nonconference tilt with Van Buren, Loop wore number 56 for the second time this season. Even though the jersey number limits what he can do when he touches the ball, Loop proved to be a force out of the backfield as he rushed for 105 yards on 11 carries and three touchdowns to lead the Indians to a 35-14 win over the Black Knights in a contest that took place at Hilliard Bradley High School.
“One shining bright spot was the way Alex Loop ran the football,” Valley coach Darren Crabtree said. “He also, when he was at fullback, blocked extremely well…Alex was the difference for us offensively tonight.”
Even though Loop is one of the top rushers on the team, he is also the first backup offensive lineman.
“He wants to wear 34, I may break down and give in one of these days,” Crabtree said. “I kind of like the looks of it, it’s deceiving. People don’t realize that he’s our second-fastest player and he gives us a different engine in there.”
As Loop was a menace to the Van Buren defense, the Indians’ defense was just as disruptive to the Black Knight offense, holding them to 178 yards of total offense and recording five sacks.
“Defensively, I thought with the exception of two big pass plays, we played extremely well,” Crabtree said. “It was disappointing to give up those big plays.”
Valley raced off to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter. The scoring began when Loop’s 19-yard run capped off a 10-play, 63-yard drive. The Indians struck for their second touchdown 19 seconds later when Chris Flowers returned an Adam Endicott pass 19 yards to pay dirt.
Valley tried to stretch its lead to 21-0 in the second but Nate Arnett was stopped on a fourth-and-goal at the Black Knight goal line. The failed conversion came back to haunt the Indians when Endicott’s 80-yard strike to Drew Conner cut the lead in half with 2:29 remaining in the half.
“What really irritated me was we didn’t score on the one and they go 99 yards after picking up a fourth-and-one on their own nine-yard line,” Crabtree said. “They showed a lot of guts and they got it.”
Another attempt by Valley to push across its third score of the half by running the two-minute drill but Bryan Rolfe’s pass to Blake Howard was picked off by Cole Martin inside the Van Buren five-yard line.
The third quarter was filled with turnovers as Rolfe was picked off for a second time by Martin and each team coughed up the ball on other series. Loop bumped the difference back up to 14 with a two-yard plunge with 4:38 left in the third.
Ross Adolph, who finished with 19 carries for 64 yards on the night, finally was rewarded with his only score with 1:24 to go in the third.
Loop capped off his scoring barrage with 7:56 remaining in the contest. Zach Shope ended the scoring with 58 seconds to go on a six-yard scamper.
Defensively, Arnett led the team with nine tackles while Hayden Dunn finished with eight and Loop recorded seven.
The Indians are on the road for the third time this season as they go to Coal Grove, a team they beat twice last season. Crabtree understands his squad will be playing a desperate Hornets squad that has started with an 0-2 record.
“We know that in their minds, an 0-3 start probably ends their season for playoffs,” Crabtree said. “It’s going to be a playoff-type atmosphere.”
Cody Leist can be reached at 353-3101, ext. 294, or email@example.com. For breaking sports news, follow Cody on Twitter @CodyLeist.
Va—Loop 19 run (Romanello kick) 4:11
Va—Flowers 19 interception return (Romanello kick) 3:52
VB—Conner 60 pass from Endicott (Olrich kick) 2:29
Va—Loop 2 run (Romanello kick) 4:38
VB—Adolph 2 run (Olrich kick) 1:24
Va—Loop 5 run (Romanello kick) 7:56
Va—Shope 6 run (Romanello kick) :58.8
RUSHING: Van Buren — Adolph 19-64, Nelson 1-5, Huber 1-(-8), Endicott 9-(-16); Valley—Lop 11-105, Arnett 11-83, Jordan 7-35, Rolfe 9-28, Shope 2-6.
PASSING: Van Buren — Endicott 4-9-1 129; Valley—Rolfe 6-16-2 52.
RECEIVING: Van Buren — Huber 1-64, Conner 1-60, Adolph 2-5; Valley — Howard 1-20, Dunn 1-17, Clark-Holbrook 1-9, Arnett 2-5, Shope 1-1.
Records—Van Buren 1-1; Valley 2-0.