Spring Valley faced plenty of adversity Friday night in its first round Class 5A playoff matchup against Westside, but the Vikings always found an answer.
The final one came when a two-point conversion pass attempt fell incomplete with 21 seconds remaining to preserve a 37-35 victory. Spring Valley advances to the second round to play at Dorman next week.
“These guys are so resilient. We’re young in a lot of areas and they just fight and scrap and do all the things we coach them to do,” Spring Valley coach Robin Bacon said. “I couldn’t be more proud of these guys. We had chances to put the game away, but they kept in it. To make that goal line stand at the end was crucial.”
Spring Valley (6-5) lost running back Marquel Brown in the second half and quarterback DQ Smith had to miss a series in the fourth quarter when they were trying to salt the game away.
But Smith returned to lead the Vikings to what turned out to be the winning points. Spring Valley got a defensive stop on a fourth-and-2 from the Westside 32 with just over four minutes remaining. They ran the clock down to 2:36 before settling for a 28-yard field goal from PJ Ulengchong and a 37-29 lead.
The Rams still had one final effort in them when they returned the ensuing short kick to the Vikings 46-yard line. They converted a fourth-and-10 on the drive and capped the 8-play, 46-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run from Junior Smith from the Wildcat formation.
Westside lined up in the same formation on the 2-point conversion try. They ran in toward the line of scrimmage then tried a jump pass that just fell out of reach of the intended receiver.
“We played flat and unenthused,” Westside coach Scott Early said. “Then at the end, we get it going but we have to make that play (on the two-point conversion). Congratulations to Spring Valley.”
Smith continued his late-season tear. The sophomore quarterback threw for three touchdowns and ran for two more while finishing with 320 yards of total offense, including 209 yards passing and 111 yards rushing.
“The game is slowing down for him,” Bacon said of his quarterback. “The first four or five games, things were going at him 100 mph. Now things are starting to slow down and he’s understanding the offense. The biggest thing is, he’s gaining confidence. He’s great leader and wants to win.”
After a slow start, the teams went back-and-forth until the end. Spring Valley had a 14-8 halftime thanks to touchdown passes of 9 yards to Brown and 5 yards to Manny Moore.
Westside (5-5) then took its only lead of the second half on an 8-yard touchdown pass from Blair Garner to Junior Smith.
Smith only took five plays to answer back for Spring Valley. He connected with Elijah Bryant on a 36-yard scoring pass. Westside fumbled on its next drive that led to a Smith 8-yard scoring run and a 21-15 lead for the Vikings. They increased that to 28-15 with 6:20 remaining in the third quarter.
“Once we figured out they lined up on one side and blitzed the linebacker, from there we were able to take advantage of what they were doing,” Smith said.
Spring Valley pushed the lead to 34-22 but Westside responded right back with a 75-yard kickoff return by Tyson Lewis to set the stage for the final minutes.
HOW THEY SCORED
SV – Marquel Brown 9 pass from DeQuandre Smith (PJ Ulengchong kick) 8:24
W – Junior Smith 25 pass from Blair Garner (Elijah Harper run) 4:53
SV – Manny Moore 5 pass from Smith (Ulengchong kick) 0:22
W – Smith 8 pass from Garner (Bryce Early kick) 10:56
SV – Elijah Bryant 36 pass from Smith (Ulengchong kick) 9:31
SV – Smith 8 run (Ulengchong kick) 6:20
W – Tyson Lewis 8 pass from Garner (Early kick) 0:00
SV – Smith 28 run (run failed) 6:50
W – Lewis 75 kickoff return (Early kick) 6:38
SV – Ulengchong 28 FG 2:36
W – Smith 1 run (pass failed) 0:21
Rushing: W: Junior Smith 11-5, Blair Garner 7-22, Tyson Lewis 1-3, Hunter Puckett 1-2, Elijah Harper 1-0. SV: DeQuandre Smith 22-111, Marquel Brown 11-62, Nehemiah Bell 8-24.
Passing: W: Garner 21-38-0-270 SV: Smith 15-25-1-209, Hunter Rogers 0-2-0-0.
Receiving: W: Smith 6-102, Lewis 6-72, Ryan Brownell 3-31, Caleb Edwards 1-4, Harper 3-33, Kaleb Martin 2-23. SV: Elijah Bryant 4-69, Rogers 4-35, Manny Moore 2-43, Brown 3-23, Quanta Jackson 1-22, Bell 1-15.