Down in the Valley
November 6, 2015
Southern Torch (3801 articles)
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Down in the Valley

By John E Morgan, Sports Reporter

Two old DeKalb County rivals.  Two playoff bound teams.  Collinsville 34, Valley Head 16.  But Valley Head’s coach was happier with his team after the game than Collinsville’s coach was with his.

Collinsville dominated this game in most ways.  375 yards of offense to Valley Head’s 177.  Collinsville’s big play offense had seven passes and seven rushes of ten or more yards.  The Panther defense held the Tigers to only 26 yards on the ground in the first half.  Collinsville gave up only two passes and two rushes of ten yards or more.  After a failed first possession, Collinsville scored four straight touchdowns to take a 28-8 half time lead.

Valley Head put together a touchdown drive on their second possession, going 65 yards in six plays including the two long passes.  They had another six play, 65 yard drive in the fourth quarter that featured a fifty yard run by quarterback Ethan Harrison.

Despite the Panther dominance, the Tigers never gave up.  Their coach, Sam Graham, took notice.  He said, “I am proud to be associated with the Valley Head Tigers tonight.  They played their butts off.  They played harder tonight than all year long.”  When asked if he felt his team had to gamble in the game, Graham said, “Collinsville is a great team.  I probably cost our kids fourteen points when we gambled with fake punts and going for it on fourth down.  But I believed in my team.  I believed we could make it.”  Valley Head converted four of five gambles on fourth down.  Graham’s final summary was, “I love every one of these kids”.

Collinsville’s Ernie Willingham was not as upbeat.  He saw Panther dominance, but he also saw Panther mistakes.  Collinsville took the opening kickoff and drove to a first down on the three.  And fumbled.  In the second half, they scored only once because of mistakes.  In four straight plays, they had another first down at the three wiped out by a holding call.  On the next play, they threw an interception.  When they got the ball back, they had a 31 yard rush and then another fumble.

Willingham said, “Valley Head had a good game plan.  They kept the ball away from us.  They went for it on fourth and had fake punts. They played really hard. But the problem is we still can’t hold on to the football.  After ten games, we’ve got to learn to hold onto the ball.”

All year long Willingham has told his team that they have plenty of talent to win every game.  If they cut out mistakes.  He can take solace from that stretch in the first half when they scored those four straight touchdowns.  Two of the TDs came on drives of less than thirty seconds.  He can also take solace in the play of backup quarterback Keaton Kilgro and the solid running of Trenton Nash and Gerald Blakely.  But he knows that unbeaten Randolph County is coming up Friday.  And his Panthers will need to hold onto the ball.

Southern Torch

Southern Torch

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