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Turnovers plague Beallsville in loss to Valley

BEALLSVILLE — When trying to crack the victory column for the first time on the road with a freshman quarterack the odds are usually stacked.

Don’t tell Valley High coach Logan Miller, who relied on his young QB, Gavin Derby, power senior back Billy Kuhn, and a smothering pass rush to spoil homecoming Friday night at Beallsville, 38-16.

Prior to kickoff at festive Dave Caldwell Field, Hannah Phillips was crowned BHS queen.

“The biggest thing is we played as a team,” said a thrilled Miller, whose Lumberjacks had dropped their first four, including three to probable playoff teams. “Once we were able to get the lead everything snowballed in our favor.”

Turnovers were a major part of Beallsville’s demise, including a fumble on their second play from scrimmage as Valley senior tackle Mark Liggett pounced on the oval at the BHS eight-yard line.

It took one play, a keeper by Derby, who scampered around end for the TD at 8:21. The PAT pass failed to leave it 6-0.

The Blue Devils lit the scoreboard 11 seconds later when sophomore Garrett Perkins scooped up the ensuing kick and raced 72 yards untouched for the equalizer to set off the cowbell-ringing among the Beallsville faithful.

Senior Brandon Louden, who was named BHS homecoming king, reached the pylon with a dive into the end zone on the PAT to give Big Blue an 8-6 lead.

Senior Billy Kuhn, one of two senior starters for the ‘Jacks, rushed for two TDs and 109 yards, including a one-yard burst on the opening play of the second quarter.

Derby, who Miller noted, “hadn’t played the sport before ninth grade,” threw a nice slant toss to sophomore Sean Bates on the PAT for a 14-8 lead.

Coach Rusty Bondy’s club tried a fourth down gamble on the minutes later after a low snap on a punt from midfield. A pass fell incomplete and Valley took over to set up a third TD.

Derby connected with junior Triston Bates for 13 yards and a major infraction of the Beallsville D moved the oval to the 14-yard line. Three plays later Sean Bates hauled in a 21-yard paydirt aerial at 7:45. Patrick Higginbotham caught the PAT toss for 22-8 cushion.

The hosts reached the ‘red zone’ on their next possession, but a fourth down pass failed from the Valley 17.

On the final play of the half Derby darted around the left side for 39 yards before he was knocked out of bounds at the Big Blue four.

The ‘Jacks’ initial second half series covered 43 yards and resulted in a fourth TD, Kuhn’s second from a yard out after he ran 28 on the previous play. Derby’s bonus run made it 30-8 at 8:57.

Higginbotham swiped an errant aerial for Valley moments later, but the drive fizzled on downs at the hosts’ 23. Seconds later, Triston Bates intercepted at the 38 and raced to the end zone with 3:33 showing in the third.

Valley rewarded Higginbotham with a pass completion on the PAT to make it 38-8 and inact the ‘mercy rule’ running clock.

Bondy’s crew came up empty again in the red zone, but Matt Stonebreaker’s fumble cover set up Louden’s 43-yard TD run with 1:22 to play. Louden added the bonus.

Juniors Virgil Doiron, David Brown, and Gavin Goodrich were solid in the trenches for Valley, host to South Harrison, Friday. Dyson Duvall and Brady Moats were big hitters for the hosts, who travel to Bridgeport on the same night.

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