By Jamie Combs
Looking to get in gear on homecoming night, Happy Valley’s football team had trouble with its transmission.
Going against upstart Sullivan East, the Warriors dropped a 28-0 Three Rivers Conference decision before a large Friday-night crowd.
“They just controlled both lines of scrimmage there,” said HV coach Larry Shively. “And in most football games, from pee-wees all the way up to the pros, that’s where games are won and lost.”
After going winless in 2010, the Patriots moved to 5-1 (2-1 conf.) under first-year coach Mike Locke. East was blasted 55-0 by the Warriors last season.
“We didn’t look at last year,” Locke said. “It’s a new day and a new team. We really had a great week of practice. I felt like we were going to play well tonight, but I didn’t know what that meant. But I felt like we’d come out here and play well. We had some momentum coming in.”
Pursuing their third consecutive victory, the Warriors wound up slipping to 4-3 with a 1-2 league worksheet. They contributed to their own demise.
“We can’t help them out,” Shively said. “I mean, gollly. We turned the ball over and had some mistakes on special teams. They’re a good football team. We can’t help them out at all. They physically dominated us on the line tonight.”
Happy Valley was able to contain heralded running back Austin Glover, who carried 18 times for 85 yards. However, quarterback Daniel Truett rushed for 112 yards and three touchdowns (18 carries) — and threw a 38-yard scoring pass.
“That’s one of the fortunate things we have,” Locke said. “We do have somebody else that’s a threat back there. Daniel can throw it well, and he runs the ball well. We saw that they were really trying to take Glover away, so we asked Daniel to step up — and he did a nice job tonight.”
Glover opened the contest with a 46-yard kickoff return to the HV 47, but the Warriors were left unscathed after Brady Potter blocked Justin Suder’s 29-yard field-goal attempt.
The Pats then forced a three-and-out, regaining possession at their 45-yard line. Three plays later, Davis hit 6-4 Chance Davis on a 38-yard touchdown.
Davis was actually covered by Potter, but grabbed a tipped ball and went the final 10 yards to paydirt.
“That gave us a lot of energy, and I don’t think we ever relinquished that energy,” Locke said of the score.
That stormy cloud lingered over Happy Valley just a little too long as sophomore Tyler Marlowe mishandled the ensuing kickoff, setting up East at the Warrior 26.
“It was nerves — at the beginning of the game,” Marlowe said.
Shortly thereafter, Truett scored on a 4-yard sneak and the Pats held the reins on a 14-0 first-quarter lead.
Over the rest of the half, the Warriors had the ball inside the East 40 on three occasions — once after Potter and company sabotaged a fake punt — but failed to make hay. Tony Hatcher’s fourth-down sack thwarted the first of those opportunities, and Cal Truett picked off a Seth Davis pass at the 4 with under a minute to go in the second quarter.
A 17-yard run by Zack Ball and 22-yard Jaylen Simmons gallop keyed a march to the Pats’ 31 to begin the third quarter. The Warriors, though, were forced to punt, and East countered with a 12-play, 83-yard march that Daniel Truett capped with a 1-yard TD.
“We had homecoming and a bunch of stuff going on,” Marlowe said. “I don’t think our minds were here.”
Truett again scored from a yard away with 5:44 to play. A 27-yard scamper by Glover jumpstarted the six-play, 58-yard drive, and Truett followed with a 28-yard dash.
Aided by a 13-yard completion from Davis to Zack Miller on fourth-and-12, the Warriors advanced to the East 11 in the final moments. That threat was extinguished by a Truett sack.
Outgained from scrimmage 286-175, Happy Valley finished with half as many rushing yards (114 on 33 attempts) as the Patriots (228 on 43).
“We’re just an arm tackle away from making a big run, or finishing a block away from getting a few first downs,” Shively said. “Versus a good football team, the 3-yard runs needed to turn into 10-yard runs. They were just better than us tonight. They were getting us down. A lot of times, we run through those tackles. Tonight we didn’t, and we tip our hat to them.”
Rocky Gragg picked off a pass for East, which punted just once and committed only two penalties (10 yards).
The Warriors, who were flagged just three times (14 yards), got a nice defensive performance from Marlowe. The linebacker accumulated 15 tackles, with Colton Haun adding nine and Ball eight.
Happy Valley now gets an open week before heading off to face a still-unbeaten Three Rivers foe in Sullivan North.
“It couldn’t come at a better time,” said Shively, speaking of his team’s bye. “We’ve had concussions and tweaks and sprains and everything else, but so do other teams. That’s no excuse. We’ll definitely rest up this week and go back to the fundamentals and ‘Football 101.’”
Marlowe is glad to have an extra week to prepare for the Golden Raiders.
“It helps,” he said.