By David Howell
WATER VALLEY – Two special teams touchdowns made the difference in a hard fought loss for the Water Valley Blue Devils Friday night against the Holly Springs Hawks.
The Hawks won by seven points, 21-14, with their first score coming in the opening kickoff.
“When you get beat at something you do everyday, it kind of eats at you a little,” Coach Trent Hammond said of the defeat. Hammond was referring to part of his daily practice routine, executing punting and kicking game.
“We have only given up two touchdowns on the defense in two games,” Hammond added.
The Blue Devils are now 1-1.
Water Valley’s first score came after gaining possession of the ball after a fumble by the Hawks’ quarterback, Demetri Oliver, who was under pressure from Blue Devil lineman Hosea Bradford.
Following the fumble, the Blue Devils began their drive on the Hawks’ 32-yard-line. Seven plays later, Bradford marched the ball into the endzone, a one-yard effort that put the Blue Devils six on the board. The extra-point kick was no good, and the Devils were down by a point, 7 -6, with 8:07 left in the half.
Following a short kick, the Hawks took possession on their own 36-yard-line. They pushed the ball down to the Blue Devils’ 22 yard-line, but came up short after going for it on fourth and eight after Bradford bats down a pass.
The Devils take over with 78 yards of green between them and paydirt, but the distance stretches as they are pushed back to their 14-yard-line in four short plays – including an offsides penalty.
With fourth and 19 yards to convert, the ball is punted to the mid-field mark, and the Hawks returner puts six more points in the score board with a 50-yard punt return. The extra-point kick is no good, and the Hawks are now leading by seven with 2:17 remaining in the half.
The Devils come up short on time, after driving the ball from their 40-yard-line to the Hawks’ 37-yard-line, with the bulk of the yards coming on a 33-yard pass from quarterback Leo Daniels to Davidtron Logan. Two Blue Devil fumbles – each without a turnover – aided in the Blue Devils failed scoring attempt as the first half ended.
The Devils start their first drive in the second half from their own 27 yard-line, when Daniels connects to Logan on a pass that is carried to the two-yard-line.
With first and goal, the ball is backed up after an illegal procedure is called against them. The next play, Bradford carries the ball into the endzone, but the ball is called back after a Blue Devils’ holding penalty – backing the ball back to the 15 yard-line.
Four plays later, the ball is turned over on downs after the Blue Devils are stopped on the 10-yard-line following a failed fourth down play.
The Hawks gain posession with 9:25 remaining in the third quarter, but are forced to punt five plays later from their own 20-yard-line. The high, short punt, travels less than 10 yards and the Blue Devils take over with great field position – from the Hawks’ 28-yard-line. An offsides call against the Hawks takes the Blue Devils five yards closer and with first and five, Bradford picks up just under five yards on the carry.
With second and one, from the Hawks’ 19-yard-line, a surge by the Blue Devil line puts Daniels across the first-down mark and the Devils have first and 10 from their own 16-yard-line.
A five yard run by Hoskins brings up second and five, when a holding call costs the Blue Devils 10 yards – bringing up second and 15 from their 22-yard-line.
Two plays later, the Blue Devils are on the six-yard line with less than a yard to gain a new set of downs. Another surge gives Daniels a conversion with only a ball length to spare.
The Blue Devils are pushed back five yards, to the 10-yard-line, when Daniels scrambles for nine yards, bringing up the second fourth down play in the series – on the one yard line.
Daniels follows his line over the goal line, and a two-point conversion puts the Blue Devils, 14-13, with 1:53 left in the third quarter.
The Hawks quickly answer, driving the ball from their own 31-yard-line all the way to Blue Devils 21 yard-line in eight plays aided by a penalty called against the Blue Devils for a late hit.
The Devils defense digs in, but on fourth and five the Hawks score on a short screen pass that puts them back on top 21-14, following a sucessful two-point conversion with 9:53 left in the game.
Following the Hawks’ touchdown, the Devils claw their way all the way from their own 33-yard-line to the Hawks’ 10-yard-line in hard-hitting football. A failed fourth time attempt gives the ball back to the Hawks with
3:16 remaining and the game.
The Devil defense is able to hold the Hawks once again after Bradford stalls a third down play drive with a hard lick, forcing the Hawks to punt from their own 24-yard-line.
The Blues take over at the mid-field mark with a minutes and 37 seconds left, but are unable to score.
The night ends with Logan rushing for 123 yards, Daniels with 59 yards and a touchdown, and Bradford with 52 yards and a touchdown.
Several key players sustained major injuries, including Bradford who could be out for the season with a knee injury and Hoskins who suffered a knee injury. Hammond said a number of other players were also banged up including J.J. Woodard who was injured in a car wreck Monday morning.
Who will step up to fill these slots?
“Absolutely anybody,” was Hammond’s firm answer.
Friday night the Devils will host Independence, another physical team.
“They will be better this year than they have been,” Hammond reported.
“They also have one of the best receivers that we will face,” the fourth year coach added.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. Friday.