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DANIEL EVANS | Times-News on target: Valley quarterback Will Kennedy throws a pass to Kalen Sharrell during the second half of Friday’s game against Greenville.

Valley stops Greenville’s comeback attempt

VALLEY — The Valley Rams (2-2, 2-0) held off Greenville’s (2-2, 1-1) second-half comeback to win 20-14 on Friday night.

Valley led 20-0 at halftime, but saw the Tigers make a furious rally in the second half. 

“It’s a win,” Valley head football coach Buster Daniel said. “It was an ugly win in the second half. It was a really good first half, made some big plays and in the second half, we shot ourselves in the foot. You can’t do that against a good football team and that’s what they [Greenville] are. They’re extremely talented, they’ve got athletes all over the field and you can’t hurt yourself because they’ll come back and beat you, and they almost did.” 

Valley’s defense came out firing on all cylinders as senior defensive lineman Daniel Osborne made a tackle in the backfield on Greenville to force a fourth-down punt on the visitor’s first drive.

Offensively, Valley ran an offense where sophomore athlete KD Hutchinson was in the backfield as the quarterback accompanied by sophomore running back B.J. Baker. When Hutchinson wasn’t behind center, junior Will Kennedy played the role of quarterback for the Rams. Daniel said inserting Hutchinson at the position has opened up the team’s offense.

Valley’s first drive included back-to-back penalties and a fumble by Baker on 3rd and 20 with 9:09 to go in the first quarter.

Greenville received the ball back and was welcomed by constant pressure from the Rams’ defense. Penalties and sacks put Greenville in a fourth and 30 situation. 

Valley began the next drive with one-yard rushes from Hutchinson and Baker. Junior Randall Brooks then ran for a first down on a reverse. 

Two plays later, Baker broke free for a 27-yard touchdown run with 4:57 to go in the first quarter. The Rams took a 6-0 lead after missing the PAT.

Greenville’s offense was on-and-off the field with a quick three-and-out.

Hutchinson then broke a 50-yard touchdown run with two minutes remaining in the opening quarter.

With 4:50 to go in the first half, Greenville was called for roughing Baker on a Valley punt. The penalty continued the Rams’ drive, ending in a six-yard touchdown run for Baker.

Baker’s second touchdown increased Valley’s lead to 20-0 at the half.

“B.J.’s important,” Daniel said. “He’s one of our main guys. Him, KD and Josh [Heath]. B.J. was good, and the team was good.”

With just over seven minutes remaining in the third quarter, Valley fumbled on its 11-yard line. Greenville decided to run its big package on fourth down and punched the ball into the end zone with 5:38 to go in the quarter.

On the ensuing Valley drive, Kennedy’s pitch to Baker in the backfield resulted in a fumble that was recovered by Greenville and returned for another score with 4:48 remaining in the third quarter, making the score 20-14. 

The visitor’s sideline came back alive in the one-score game.

Hutchinson brought Valley to about midfield on the ensuing kickoff, but the Rams were forced to punt on a three-and-out drive. 

The energized Greenville offense took the field and converted a first down. Valley then forced a Greenville punt when senior Jaden Hamlin blocked a pass on third down.

“We couldn’t get a big head,” Hamlin said. “We had to stay where we were. We couldn’t let our momentum change because we saw that they were up.”

Baker had a couple of carries on the next Valley drive, running down the clock to begin the fourth quarter. 

With 10:34 remaining in the game, Baker attempted a fake punt but was tackled a few yards short of the first down marker. 

On the ensuing Greenville drive, Hamlin got another backfield tackle, and junior linebacker Josh Bailey grabbed an interception that was called back for roughing the passer. 

Greenville eventually drove down the field and faced a fourth and two situation on the Valley 40-yard line. The visitors once again brought in the big package, but fell short of the first down, according to the spot on the field. Greenville was then issued an unsportsmanlike penalty after turning the ball over on downs. 

Baker then ran down the clock for Valley, earning first down after first down for the Rams. 

Valley faced a fourth down on the Greenville five-yard line with 3:56 remaining. Greenville stopped Valley, taking the ball over on downs and advanced the ball to its 22-yard line after an unsportsmanlike call on Valley.

“We have to clean up our mistakes,” Daniel said. “We are getting penalties before the snap and that kills us. That comes with youth, the guys being young. We have to fix those things if we’re going to be any better down the road.”

The Rams’ defense then put the Greenville offense in a fourth-down situation early in the drive. On fourth and long, Greenville’s quarterback threw an incomplete pass with 1:52 remaining, putting Valley in position to virtually run down the clock.

“We just had to be men,” Hamlin said. “We had to man up. That’s what they tell me every day, I have to show that I’m a man out here in these trenches.”

Valley improves to 2-0 in region play after defeating a Greenville team that it lost to in 2018. The Rams travel to face Carroll (2-1, 0-1) on Sept. 20.