Valley topples Lanett for the fourth straight season
Published 11:32 pm Friday, September 1, 2023
Valley used a dominating second half on special teams to win its fourth straight game over their rival Lanett 41-14.
Early in the second half, Lanett had two breakdowns on special teams that cost them the game. After Tyilyn Carrell fumbled the ball, Lanett recovered and had a chance to cut it to a one-possession game. Four plays later a botched snap on an attempted punt by Lanett was recovered in the end zone to give Valley a 34-14 lead.
“It killed the third quarter,” Lanett head coach Chip Seagle said. “We went into halftime with a lot of wind in our sails, and that just took it all out. Those two special teams touchdowns, that just turned the whole thing.”
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On the next drive, Valley forced a punt and Jay Harper returned it 50 yards for the touchdown, and Valley led 41-14. That score sealed the game as neither team scored for the rest of the half.
Early on in the game, Valley’s defense stifled the Panthers. Lanett’s first three drives ended with two three and outs and a turnover on downs.
“First half, we were just clicking,” Valley head coach Adam Hunter said.
On the opposite side, Valley could not do any wrong on the offensive side to start the game. Valley ran the ball straight at Lanett in the first quarter. Cam Dooley capped off the 51-yard drive with a 7-yard run to start the scoring and give Valley a 7-0 lead with 7:06 left in the first.
The second drive was not any different for Valley. Dooley capped off that 47-yard drive with another 7-yard rushing touchdown. The extra point attempt was missed, but Valley led the Panthers 13-0 with 2:21 left in the first quarter.
“I think we did a really good job offensively in the first half.”
To start the second quarter, Lanett faked a punt on fourth down and 26. Zan Woody came up with a big hit on Shemar Patterson to end Lanett’s drive. Woody and Galvin Goss both came up huge for Valley’s defense on several occasions.
“I think Zan and Galvin played a heck of a game defensively for us,” Hunter said. “I think they really tackled well. They ran to the ball well.”
Valley found the end zone again early on in the second quarter. Dooley hit Brandon Thomas for the 16-yard touchdown pass. Valley held a 19-0 lead with 9:49 left in the second quarter after the missed extra point.
Lanett was set up for failure again as a broken play led to a forced fumble by Woody. Whitfield recovered his own fumble, but Lanett was set up with a second down and 28. On the very next play Whitfield connected with Kejuan Greene on the 27-yard pass. That pass kept the drive going, and Lanett clawed its way back into the game on Keondae Hughley’s 1-yard touchdown run.
Valley answered on the next drive. Dooley connected with Ian Crim-Davis for the 20-yard touchdown pass that pushed the Rams’ lead to 19 with 24 seconds left in the first half.
Whitfield kept Lanett in the game on the 85-yard touchdown run to cut the lead to 12 with 11 seconds left in the first half.
“He’s special,” Seagle said. “Just amazing with the football in his hands, but we can’t just wait for him to make big plays.”
On the next possession, Christian Brock intercepted Dooley’s deep pass in the end zone, but Valley took a 26-14 lead into halftime.
Dooley finished the game with four touchdowns. Thomas finished the game with one receiving touchdown and one touchdown on special teams. Crim-Davis and Harper had one touchdown each. Hunter wants to see his key players continue growing their endurance so they can stay on the field more.
“We’ve got to continue to get in playing shape, so those guys can go,” Hunter said. “Those guys can be really special if we can get them on both sides of the football.”
Overall, Seagle felt like the moment may have been too big for some of his younger players.
“They had that deer in the headlights look,” Seagle said.
The win brings Valley’s record to 1-1 on the season, and the loss does the same for Lanett. Both Valley and Lanett will begin region play next week as Valley has a road game against Beauregard, and Lanett stays at home to face Horseshoe Bend.