The Waverly Tigers remain undefeated as they came from behind to defeat the Valley Indians by a final score of 35-28.
The Tigers had their defense tested early in the first quarter as Valley marched deep into the Waverly red zone and threatened to score. But in what would be the first of many huge momentum swings, the Waverly Tigers managed to intercept a pass by Indians quarterback Andrew Shope.
Valley’s defense would hold up, however, as the Tigers failed to capitalize off the early turnover. The Indians offense would continue to grind the ball on the ground behind their two standout running backs, Kayden Mollette and Gabe Streeter. The Valley ground attack would pound the ball into Tigers territory and with 4:56 left to go in the 1st quarter, Andrew Shope would score a touchdown a 17 yard touchdown rush to give the Indians the lead, 7-0.
Waverly would respond quickly as on their next drive they would start to find some success on the ground behind running back Peyton Shoemaker. With just 2 minutes to go in the first half, Shoemaker would tie the game at 7-7 after punching the ball in from one yard out.
A huge 66 yard kickoff return by Valley senior wide out Tanner Cunningham would have the Indians in prime position to score. With just six seconds left in the first, Kayden Mollette would score his first touchdown of the game to put Valley up 14-7.
The second quarter would start much like the first, but this time it was Valley’s defense that stepped up and forced an interception off of Tigers signal caller, Haydn Shanks, at the Indians own 24 yard line.
The Valley offense would have a long way to go if they wanted to capitalize off the turnover. Behind Streeter, Valley would drive the ball deep into Tigers territory. Streeter had a great game for the Indians as he ran for 109 yards on 16 attempts. Mollette would be the one to cap off the long drive for the Indians, however, as he ran the ball in from 10 yards out to give Valley a 21-7 lead with 3:15 to go until half. Mollette would lead the Indians ground attack on the night as he rushed for 135 yards and scored 3 touchdowns.
The Tigers would refuse to lay down as they scored on their very next possession. Shanks would make up for his costly interception as he connected with wide receiver Easton Wolf on a 20 yard touchdown pass to cut their deficit to seven. Going into halftime, the score would be 21-14.
Tigers head coach Chris Crabtree would look to calm his team down as they start the second half down only 21-14. “Valley’s coaching staff does a great job of having their guys prepared” said Crabtree, “We had to make some adjustments there at half and just be better at what we were doing. We had a few miscues early, but we had to settle down.” Shanks continued to throw the ball successfully on the Valley defense as he connected with Zach Brown to tie the game at 21-21 with nine minutes to go in the third.
After forcing a punt, the Tigers started with the ball on their own 32 yard line as they looked to take the lead. In a dramatic turn of events, the Indians would force a huge turnover and recover the ball inside the Tigers red zone. With 3:38 left in the third, Valley would take advantage of the huge turnover as Shope connected with Mollette from 5 yards out to put the Indians up 28-21.
Waverly continued to stay in the game as their defe3nse would start to slow down the Indians running game. Indians head coach Darren Crabtree credits the Tigers with making adjustments to slow down his running game, “We thought we could run the football against them and we were able to do that very well in the first half. They were able to make some adjustments and slow us down.”
On their next drive, Waverly would answer right back as Shanks connected with Wolf on a pass very similar to the one that would end the first half. Shanks would finish the game with 99 yards and three touchdowns. The game would stay tied at 28-28 going into the fourth quarter. Even with both teams coming in with prolific offensive weapons and huge plays on both sides, a defensive stop would be the game changer.
With 9:33 to go in the game, Shoemaker would pick off a pass and run it 66 yards to the house for a touchdown that would ultimately give the Waverly Tigers the victory 35-28. Tigers’ head coach Chris Crabtree has come to expect this from his star running back, “Peyton (Shoemaker) is a player, he does it on both sides of the ball. Comes up with big plays. Whenever he makes a break on the ball, he goes and scores touchdowns.”
The Indians fall to 2-4 on the season with another test in the Portsmouth West Senators coming to Lucasville in what will surely be another great SOC matchup. Kickoff for that game is slated for 7 p.m.
Waverly improves to an impressive 6-0 on the season, but will have their biggest test of the regular season in week seven with the defending state champion Wheelersburg Pirates coming to town. Kickoff in Waverly is slated for 7 p.m. between the Tigers and the Pirates.
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT