PDT Sports Writer
NELSONVILLE — Entering Friday’s Division VI, Region 21 Semifinal, Valley had allowed 41 points in the first half.
Friday night, the top-seeded Indians allowed 28 points in the first two quarters and were not able to overcome a multitude of errors in a 35-21 loss to No. 4 Newark Catholic at Nelsonville-York’s Boston Field. Green Wave quarterback and University of Illinois verbal Chayce Crouch was 12-of-17 passing for 216 yards and four touchdowns in the win.
“Unfortunately we didn’t play well enough to win,” Valley coach Darren Crabtree said. “We got ourselves in a hole. We fought back in the second half, we had a chance there after we got a stop to put another touchdown in and we didn’t and Newark Catholic made us pay for some of (our) mistakes.”
Just as the Indians had done to Fort Frye last week, Newark Catholic jumped out on the scoreboard on the second play from scrimmage thanks to a 79-yard run by Anthony Wing. However, Sam Bell missed the extra point.
After Valley was forced to punt on its first retaliation, it took three plays for Crouch to throw a 63-yard touchdown pass to Hunter Nance. The two hooked up again for a successful two-point conversion with only 6:06 off the clock.
“(Crouch) showed up for them tonight,” Crabtree said. “He played extremely well throwing the football. They were able to do some things passing the football against us that really no one has done all year.”
The Indians were able to respond offensively with a 12-play, 80-yard drive that was capped off by a 15-yard pass from Bryan Rolfe to Chris Flowers.
Crouch bumped the lead up to two scores in the second quarter on a 26-yard pitch-and-catch to Luke Cenaviva but Bell’s kick was blocked.
Needing a response, Valley got it in the form of a 2-yard keeper by Rolfe with 5:43 left in the half. Also needing a stop, the Indian defense held the Green Wave to a 28-yard field goal attempt by Crouch that bounced off the left upright.
However, the Indians’ mounting stream of luck stopped when Rolfe was intercepted by Wing on the Valley 37. Wing was rewarded three plays later with a 13-yard touchdown reception from Crouch with 30.5 seconds remaining until intermission. Just as Nance had done in the first quarter, Wing caught the two-point conversion to send the teams into the locker room with 28-14 flashing on the scoreboard.
“It took a lot of momentum away from us but it didn’t stop us,” Crabtree said. “We went in and regrouped at half and said that we can come out and put one up early in the third quarter and put us right back into the game.”
The Indians needed three plays to start the third quarter to shrink the deficit to seven as Nate Arnett found pay dirt from a 41-yard sweep. The Division VI Southeast District Offensive Player of the Year finished with 224 yards of total offense in his final game.
On the ensuing kickoff, Byce Romanello’s pooch kick rolled around and gave Valley a chance to recover. Unfortunately, Blake Baker fell on the ball at his own 32.
Another break was given to the Indians after Newark Catholic punted for the first time in the evening. On a 3rd-and-8 from the Green Wave 18, an inadvertent whistle nullified a Rolfe fumble and replayed the down.
But two plays later, Rolfe’s pass to the end zone slipped through Flowers’ hands.
“Some times you make plays and some times you don’t,” Crabtree said. “We didn’t make them unfortunately.”
Newark Catholic tacked on the final tally of the night with 10:43 remaining in regulation when Cenaviva caught his second touchdown of the evening, this time from 19 yards. The drive was benefited by three Valley penalties in the drive that began late in the third.
“We lost our composure and had some penalties that we haven’t had all year,” Crabtree said. “That just comes from being frustrated.”
The last gasp for the Indians came with 7:03 remaining. A hook-and-lateral that was started with Rolfe, went to Ethan-Clark Holbrook and finished with Arnett placed Valley on the Green Wave 31.
An 8-yard run by Rolfe put the Indians on the Newark Catholic 23 but the Green Wave defense stiffened and did not allow another yard the remainder of the game.
Valley graduates a senior class that finished their high school record with a record of 43-5 with three SOC II titles, five playoff victories and two regional final appearances.
“Hopefully the underclassmen have learned some things from them and the leadership they provided us,” Crabtree said. “We’ll get after it in the weight room over the winter and see what we can do next fall.”
As for Newark Catholic, a rematch against No. 2 Columbus Bishop Ready is now set as the Silver Knights eliminated No. 6 Monroe Central 45-14 in the other semifinal. Ready won the 26-14 season opener against the Green Wave.
Newark Catholic coach Bill Franks knew his team picked up a tough test.
“That’s was a very good football team we just beat,” Franks said. “They’ve been here and done that.”
The best compliment came from Wing, who finished with 84 yards rushing.
“They were very physical,” Wing said. “I am very sore.”
Cody Leist can be reached at 353-3101, ext. 294, or firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking sports news, follow Cody on Twitter @CodyLeist.
NC 14 14 0 7 — 35
V 7 7 7 0 — 21
NC — Wing 79 run (kick failed) 10:58
NC — Nance 63 pass from Crouch (Nance pass from Crouch) 5:54
V — Flowers 15 pass from Rolfe (Romanello kick) :43.5
NC — Ceneviva 26 pass from Crouch (kick blocked) 9:10
V — Rolfe 2 run (Romanello kick) 5:43
NC — Wing 13 pass from Crouch (Wing pass from Crouch) :30.5
V — Arnett 41 run (Romanello kick) 10:48
NC — Ceneviva 19 pass from Crouch (Crouch kick) 10:43
First Downs 18 19
Rush Att-Yds. 30-194 37-252
Pass Att.-Comp.-Int. 18-12-0 19-11-1
Pass Yds. 216 123
Total Yds. 410 375
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 1-0
Turnovers 0 1
Penalties-Yds. 4-25 6-70
Punts-Avg. 2-43 2-38
RUSHING: NC — Wing 11-84, Jurden 12-61, Crouch 7-49; V — Arnett 20-162, Rolfe 9-33, Shope 1-33, Loop 6-18, Jordan 1-6.
PASSING:NC — Crouch 12-17-0 216, Wing 0-1-0 0; V —Rolfe 11-19-1 123
RECEIVING: NC — Nance 3-97, Cenaviva 3-64, Wing 4-50, Jurden 2-5; V — Arnett 4-62, Flowers 2-21, Clark-Holbrook 3-33, Dunn 1-10, Loop 1-6.
Records — Newark Catholic 11-1; Valley 11-1.