PDT Sports Writer
MINFORD — Going 10-0 in football for three-straight years is one impressive feat, but doing it with three different quarterbacks is another.
In just his 10th game as the starting quarterback, sophomore Bryan Rolfe turned in one of his most complete games of his career while Nate Arnett made one final case for SOC II Offensive Player of the Year as Valley defeated Minford 41-31 for the Indians’ third-straight SOC II outright title and a 30-game regular season winning streak.
“Any time you go undefeated, you have to have someone at the quarterback position,” Valley coach Darren Crabtree said. “This year, we felt like as the season has gone on, Bryan has really grown up, especially the last two weeks. He has made a lot of plays, both tonight through the air and on the ground.”
Rolfe helped the Indians draw first blood when he scooted 20 yards for a touchdown on their first drive of the game. Although he finished with 70 yards on 12 carries, Rolfe was far from done in the scoring column.
After four measurements on one drive, Minford tied the game early in the second thanks to a 16-yard run by Zach Justice. He led the Falcons with 96 rushing yards on 18 totes.
“All of the backs did a good job of running tonight and our offensive line did an outstanding job of blocking,” Minford coach Brent Daniels said. “There’s going to be some sore kids on both teams, it was a physical ball game. It was a classic ball game.”
The Indians retook the lead on a 46-yard dash by Alex Loop. The drive was created on the heels of a Levi Jenkins fumble at the Valley 42.
However, Justice took all five carries on the next possession, capped off by a 3-yard sweep, and knotted the game for the second time in the half. A 53-yard kickoff return by Tate Hall put the Falcons deep into Indian territory to start the march.
The half ended with a 1-yard sneak by Rolfe with :16.9 remaining until intermission.
“It gave us a little cushion, a little breather,” Crabtree said. “At that point, they were taking the ball to us offensively and to see us come back, respond and make some plays defensively, it was a nice sight.”
Rolfe coughed up the ball on the first drive of the second half and Quinten Smith fell on the pigskin. The turnover led to a Matt Joyce 23-yard field goal late in the third.
“We (were) right in the ball game,” Daniels said. “… The kids responded, came out in the second half, got a good defensive stop, drove right down the field and put one in on them.”
Rolfe redeemed himself with the first play of the fourth quarter as he connected with Zach Shope on a 21-yard pass but Bryce Romanello’s point-after kick sailed wide to make it a 10-point margin.
Valley capitalized on Minford’s first play of its ensuing drive when Ryan Brown fell on an Austin Carter fumble. Two plays later, Rolfe found pay dirt with his feet for the third time on the evening, again from a yard.
“You’re going to deal with adversity, whether it’s in football or in life and how you respond from it,” Daniels said. “I challenged them tonight with something about if stuff went wrong, were we going to step up and respond or we going to fold over. I thought they did a great job of responding.”
Cody Stapleton brought the Falcons to 34-24 with a 1-yard dive that capped off a 16-play, 65-yard drive. Matt Joyce’s pooch kick bounced off the leg of Caleb Clark and fell into Shope’s arms. Four plays later, Rolfe all but dashed Minford’s hopes with a 25-yard touchdown run, his fourth score on the ground and fifth overall.
Stapleton’s 15-yard run with 1:07 put it once again to a 10-point margin but Joyce’s onside kick fell into the grasp of Dakota Baker to conclude the game.
Although he didn’t reach the end zone, Arnett finished with 199 yards on 16 rushes.
“I thought our kids up front opened up a lot of big holes for him,” Crabtree said. “It’s like I told our kids at halftime, we’ve won 29 in a row, but what’s your legacy as seniors going to be? Are you going to be the class that didn’t finish?”
Crabtree got his answer in the form of a 452-394 edge in total offense. The Indians will return home next Friday for a Division VI, Region 21 Quarterfinal where early projections according to JoeEitel.com have them hosting SOC I champion Oak Hill. The two teams have not met since 2007 when Valley picked up a 16-8 win.
As for the Falcons, the dreams of making the playoffs for the sixth time in the last seven years came up short but not without a fight. He felt his senior class gave it all they could in their final contest.
“We had a couple of crucial plays that hurt us but I thought that the kids played extremely hard tonight,” Daniels said. “I thought we moved the ball well in our run game, I thought that was the best our offensive line has looked all year.
“We did a lot of good things tonight, we just come up a little bit on the scoreboard. The good thing about it was that my kids played (for) 48 minutes tonight and that’s what I’m proud of.”
Cody Leist can be reached at 353-3101, ext. 294, or firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking sports news, follow Cody on Twitter @CodyLeist.
V 7 14 0 20 — 41
M 0 14 3 14 — 31
V — Rolfe 20 run (Romanello kick) 8:03
V — Justice 16 run (Joyce kick) 10:23
M — Loop 46 run (Romanello kick) 3:59
M — Justice 3 run (Joyce kick) 2:28
V — Rolfe 1 run (Romanello kick) :16.9
M — Joyce 23 FG 3:38
V — Shope 21 pass from Rolfe (kick failed) 11:54
V — Rolfe 1 run (Romanello kick) 11:06
M — Stapleton 1 run (Joyce kick) 6:21
V — Rolfe 25 run (Romanello kick) 4:56
M — Stapleton 15 run (Joyce kick) 1:07
First Downs 15 18
Rush Att.-Yds. 34-317 44-248
Pass Att.-Comp.-Int. 11-9-0 12-5-0
Pass Yds. 135 46
Total Yds. 452 394
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 3-2
Turnovers 1 2
Penalties-Yds. 3-25 2-10
Punts-Avg. 2-47 2-41.5
RUSHING: V — Arnett 16-199, Rolfe 12-70, Loop 5-48, Jordan 1-0; M — Justice 18-96, Carter 9-43, Compton 13-41, Stapleton 13-41, Jenkins 4-16.
PASSING: V — Rolfe 9-11-0 135; M — Stapleton 5-12-0 46
RECEIVING: V — Clark-Holbrook 3-57, Dunn 2-36, Shope 2-24, Arnett 1-16, Jordan 1-2; M — White 2-20, Clark 2-18, Justice 1-8.
Records — Valley 10-0 (5-0); Minford 7-3 (2-3).