The Valley Indians traveled to the bluegrass state Saturday night to face the 3rd ranked Raceland Rams in the Class A rankings before ultimately falling short, 60-28.
The first half of Saturday night’s contest was full of fireworks for both sides. Raceland did not waste any time in their first drive of the game as they drove the ball seamlessly into Indians territory before quarterback Jacob Heighton scrambled for the game’s first points on a twelve yard touchdown rush. Running back Derek Pennington converted the Rams two point conversion attempt, giving Raceland the 8-0 lead with 10:21 left in the first quarter.
On the Indians first offensive series, facing a second and thirty after a holding penalty, senior quarterback Andrew Shope found a wide open sophomore Andrew Andronis streaking down the sideline for a 55 yard touchdown strike in a statement answer to the Rams opening drive with 6:14 remaining in the opening quarter. Shope to Andronis would prove be a consistent theme throughout the first half.
Raceland quickly answered the rebuttal from Valley on a long 37 yard touchdown pass from Heighton to running back Judd Adkins. Raceland extended their lead to 15-7 with 3:20 remaining in the opening quarter following the successful PAT.
Valley was not able to put points on the board in their second drive of the first half, setting up Raceland with the chance to take a two score lead in the second quarter. The Rams high powered offense was not to be stopped when they received the ball as Heighton once again delivered a touchdown strike, this time finding the speedy Gunnur Lewis for a 61 yard score. Raceland took a 15 point lead following the made PAT at 22-7 with 7:21 left in the half.
On the ensuing possession, the Indians were once again able to find success with the long ball as Shope found Andronis for a 43 yard touchdown pass with 4:40 remaining in the half, Andronis and Shope’s second connection of the half and the game. Those two wouldn’t be done for the night just yet.
What else would you expect in a high scoring affair like this than for Raceland to quickly answer after the Indians score? On the very next offensive play, Heighton found Dalton Adkins deep for a 48 yard touchdown pass at the 4:28 mark in the quarter, just twelve seconds after Shope and Andronis’ second touchdown connection. After the missed extra point, the Rams would lead 28-14.
Valley was unable to score off their second to last possession in the half, setting up Raceland with another scoring opportunity. Running back Judd Adkins was in the right place at the right time for the Rams as he caught a stripped ball that one of his teammates was carrying but then lost near the first down line for Raceland. Adkins took the ball in for a 26 yard touchdown rush to extend their lead to 34-14 with just 45 seconds remaining in the half after another missed PAT, the second of the first half for Raceland.
If you thought there’s no possible way Valley could answer with only 45 seconds left in the half: think again. The Indians moved the ball seamlessly into Raceland territory and with only five seconds left on the game clock, Shope found Andronis for the third time in the end zone, this time on a 34 yard touchdown pass to bring the Indians to within two scores at 34-21 just before half.
The ensuing play for Raceland meant trying to put it in the end zone for a miracle score in the final seconds for the half. Heighton was able to get into open field on the quarterback run before the play was halted in Indians territory due to unnecessary roughness penalties on the Rams. On the receiving end of the foul play was Andrew Andronis, the playmaking sophomore who helped keep Valley in the game. Andronis stayed down on the field for several moments before finally leaving the field under his own power as the half ended. Andronis would not return in the second half for Valley and head coach Darren Crabtree would not comment on the severity of the sophomore’s injury. Andronis would finish the game with five catches for 152 yards and three touchdowns.
The offensive showcase for Shope and the Indians continued through Valley’s first possession of the third quarter as he found Tanner Cunningham for a 26 yard touchdown pass, his fourth of the game to bring the Indians within one score at 34-28 with 11:11 remaining in the third. Unfortunately for the Indians, this would be their last score of the night as they were unable to continue their offensive successes throughout the remainder of the game.
Raceland took the ensuing drive deep into Indians territory before Judd Adkins capped off the drive with a two yard touchdown rush. After the unsuccessful two point conversion attempt, Raceland extended their lead to 40-28 with 9:42 remaining in the third.
On Valley’s next drive, things were looking up before Andrew Shope threw his first interception of the ball game as he attempted to find Tanner Spradlin in the end zone with six minutes left in the third quarter. Fortunately for Valley, the Rams were forced to punt after a three and out for the Raceland offense.
Valley’s offense was stopped once again by Raceland’s defense in the next possession thanks to a sack of Shope on 4th and 12 in Raceland territory with two minutes remaining in the third. The Rams offense would march the ball down the field once again with ease as running back Hunter Lacks crossed the goal line on a one yard touchdown rush as time expired in the third quarter. After yet another missed PAT, Raceland claimed a three possession lead at 46-28.
Shope proceeded to throw his second and third interceptions in a three minute span for Valley, setting up a Judd Adkins four yard touchdown rush and a Hunter Lacks 23 yard touchdown rush for Raceland. PATs were made following both scores to give Raceland the lead at 60-28 which would somehow hold following this high scoring affair.
The Indians finished the game with 408 yards of total offense against Raceland, compared to the Rams’ 533 yards of total offense.
Crabtree knew coming into this game that dealing with Raceland’s depth at the skill positions would be a tall task for his team. “Their depth wore on us” said Crabtree, “They played a lot of kids one way, we played a lot of kids both ways. The heat didn’t help us tonight. We battled with them, cut it to a one score lead there in the third quarter. But just too many big plays on us defensively. It seemed like at sometimes we would have them at third and long and they would get a big pass play on us. But I was really proud of our effort. The execution wasn’t what we wanted it to be. They’re a good football team, we knew that coming in. But I’d like to think that for three quarters we gave them all they wanted.”
The Indians will play host to another Kentucky school next week following a short week of practices, this time it will be the Eagles of Fairview. For Crabtree, making sure his guy’s focus has moved onto their matchup with Fairview is the most important thing moving forward. “We had some positives in this game, especially offensively. We just have to get back to work and keep grinding. I just told the kids ‘We’re 1-3, one more non-league game before we get into league play’. There’s sometimes we showed we’re a pretty good football team. We’ll just get back to work with Fairview coming up and we’ll see what happens.”
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at email@example.com, or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT