Comeback Lifts Knights Past ’Jacks
The Valley Lumberjacks came to Tyler Consolidated High School on Friday, Oct. 26, sporting a 2-6 record with hopes of using a wet and muddy field to their advantage, to upset the 4-4 Silver Knights. Tyler, however, used a big second half comeback to nip the upset-minded Lumberjacks, 26-24, after getting a 75-yard kick off return from Griffin Phillips right before the half.
Valley surprised the Silver Knights in the first quarter with a power running game led by three first half scores from fullback George Brown. With 7:46 on a first quarter clock, Brown burst up the middle for a six yard touchdown; the conversion attempt was no good, but the Lumberjacks had a 6-0 lead.
The Silver Knights turned the ball over on a three and out, as the field conditions were were hurting their running and passing game. Valley seemed to have the momentum, and the Knights were having trouble stopping the visitors’ running game. At the 11:16 mark of the second quarter, Brown again found the end zone on a burst off tackle for 18 yards. The conversion run, again, failed, but Valley now had a 12-0 lead.
The Knights, again, failed to move the ball, and Valley took over. Sticking with their game plan of using the slippery field conditions to their favor, Valley continued to pursue the ground attack, and with just 37 seconds to go before the half, Brown broke free and rambled 12 yards to shock the Silver Knights, going up 18-0.
The Knights then put some points on the board when Griffin Phillips then took the ensuing kick off off at the 25-yard line and went down field unmolested to give the home team new blood. The extra point attempt failed, and the half ended with a score of 18-6, Valley.
Tyler Consolidated struck first in the second half, with under a minute gone off the clock, when Mark Rucker ripped off a 56-yard run to draw the Knights to within six. Rucker then tacked on the two-point conversion run, and the Lumberjacks’ lead was cut to 18-14.
Not to be denied, the visitors put on a drive of their own, taking three-and-one-half minutes off the clock to get another score when Fluharty scored from 15 yards out, giving the Lumberjacks a 24-14 advantage with 8:30 to go in the third.
The Knights never gave up, and with 2:42 to go in the third, Phillips and Gage Huffman hooked up on a 20-yard pass with Huffman getting wide open for the catch, making it 24-20 after the failed conversion try. Tyler’s defense stepped up big and made a couple stops, and the Knights managed to put another score on the board with 12 seconds left in the quarter for their first lead of the game: a 19-yard left sideline run by Rucker. The conversion run failed, and the Silver Knights held game winning lead.
Neither team was able to penetrate the scoreboard in the fourth quarter, and the surprised Knights came away with the victory to improve to 5-4 with playoff hopes still alive. Rucker ended as the game’s leading rusher with 152 yards on 24 carries, while Huffman caught three passes for 27 yards. Hunter Forester grabbed a pass for 16 yards. Valley led in first downs by a whopping 16-6, but the Silver Knights finished with 325 total yards to Valley’s 296.
“The kick off return by Phillips right before the half was huge. It set the tone for the rest of the game and raised our momentum and gave us some confidence. Give Valley credit ,they had a good game plan, and we had trouble stopping them. The field conditions were definitely to their advantage. We knew we were going to need some big plays to slow them down, and our guys stepped up and took over in the second half. We will start preparing for St. Marys on Monday, and hopefully everything plays out and we can get the win and move on,” said Coach Ryan Walton.