By Reid Bankston
After a standout junior season, much was expected from Water Valley (5-4 overall, 3-1 region) running back D.C. Logan. Unfortunately for Logan, the Blue Devil standout running back, largely due to field conditions being more conducive to boots than cleats, has struggled at times to get it going during his senior campaign.
That all changed Friday night, as nothing was going to slow down Logan en route to a playoff clinching 26-20 win over the home standing Winona Tigers. Logan finished the game with 229 yards rushing, 14 receiving yards, and three touchdowns.
“He wants to win as much or more as anybody and he channeled it tonight. You can’t even tell what color jersey he has on because he’d been ground into the dirt so much. He was tired, but he fought and he scrapped and it’s paying off for him,” said Water Valley head coach Brad Embry. “I’d try to pull him out tonight to rest him and he’d wave me off, he didn’t want out of the game. He wanted to rock and he was dragging people, out running people, running over people, and running around people. He showed out, he was a stud tonight.”
Logan’s first score of the night came with 4:38 left in the first quarter, as Blue Devil quarterback Josh Johnson connected with the senior playmaker for a 12 yard touchdown reception. Thanks to a vital block from wide receiver Chris Conard, Logan was able to out run two Winona defenders to the end zone.
“Chris Conard really made a good adjustment on that play to go and block the right guy, and that’s just Chris making another play,” said Embry. “We were scrambling to make some adjustments at halftime and during the game, but that is one thing (Slot Receiver screen) we do have that fits with what they (Winona) were doing.”
The Tigers responded on their next possession, as Winona running back Chief Brown struck from 13 yards out to tie the game at 7-7 with 9:30 left in the first half. Brown finished with 120 yards rushing and three touchdowns.
“He (Brown) is pretty good, and he’s just a junior, so that’s not good. Maybe we can get him to sign early and get him on out of here,” joked Embry.
Two big plays from Water Valley fullbacks created the Blue Devils’ next scoring chance, as a 17-yard reception by C.J. Jackson, and a 40 yard run by J.D. Fondon set up a Johnson quarterback sneak from two yards out. Barrett Larson’s extra point attempt was wide left, making the score 13-7 in favor of Water Valley.
Winona once again answered Water Valley on their next possession, as Brown broke free for 35 yards on a third and 17 play to keep the Tiger drive alive. Brown later scored on a 19 yard touchdown run, but Winona kicker Jarred Ballard pulled his extra point attempt to keep the score at 13-13.
Not to be out done by Brown, Logan willed his team down the field on the ensuing Water Valley possession, with a 37 and 25 yard run.
Water Valley once again took the lead when Logan rushed in from 15 yards out, breaking two tackles at the line of scrimmage, and hurdling a Tiger defender at the seven yard line to score and put the Blue Devils ahead 19-13.
Logan, who normally plays both offense and defense for the Blue Devils, was allowed to focus all of his energies on carrying the ball thanks to a young Water Valley defender.
“We’ve talked about being a band of brothers and coming together and one of our young guys stepped up tonight, and that’s Desmond Hervey,” said Embry. “He (Hervey) allowed D.C. (Logan) to just play offense and on this field you can look at little things like that that win ball games.”
Water Valley’s next touchdown with 1:22 remaining in the game effectively ended any hopes of a Tiger comeback of the night. Logan broke free from 67 yards out to cap off his efforts on the night and most likely clinch the region’s number two seed for the Blue Devils.
Winona scored with 27 seconds left in the game, as Tiger quarterback connected with Brown on a 21 yard touchdown pass, bringing the final margin to 26-20. Water Valley recovered the ensuing onside kick, securing the Blue Devils second straight victory.
“We came out and scrapped. I think that might be the best one we’ve played since I’ve been here. I’m proud of every one of them,” said Embry. “Our kids knew this was going to be four quarters and making every play count was what it was going to take to beat them.”
Water Valley will now turn their attention to the regular season and home finale against the Mooreville Troopers. A Blue Devil victory over the Troopers, or an Aberdeen victory over Nettleton will secure the region’s number two seed for Water Valley, giving Embry his first home playoff game in his young tenure.