Valley's Cody Winter scores against Parkersburg Catholic.
PARKERSBURG - Valley's victory tour came to a screeching halt Saturday afternoon.
Payton Sturm threw for four touchdowns and Parkersburg Catholic forced four turnovers in taking a 37-14 win over the state-ranked Greyhounds at Stadium Field.
Valley (6-1), which came into the game as one of seven remaining unbeaten teams in West Virginia and ranked No. 4 in Class A, threw three interceptions, lost a fumble at its own 37 to set up a Crusader score and incurred eight penalties.
"We haven't played very well at times this year,'' said Valley coach Benny Hopkins, "but we've been able to survive a couple times. Today we had several kids who didn't play and we had a defensive end get hurt in the first quarter, so we're playing with several kids who hadn't played very much, and I guess it makes a difference. But you can't take anything away from [the Crusaders]. They played a good game.''
Catholic (4-4) flashed a balanced offense, ending up with 174 yards rushing and 173 passing.
Sturm hit on 12 of 21 passes for 173 yards and hit three different receivers with scoring tosses. He connected with Mitch Davis on plays of 56 and 34 yards, Ryan Schriner from 9 yards and Nick Roedersheimer from 9 yards.
"We weren't [surprised] - not at all,'' Sturm said of the outcome. "We were expecting to come out of here with a win. We said to the guys before the game, 'We've got to go out and prove something.' We haven't proved much to anybody this year. But it's homecoming and we've got to prove something - a statement game - and we went out and did that.''
Parkersburg Catholic also tricked Valley a couple times with 2-point conversion passes by Sturm out of kicking formations, each time giving the Crusaders a nine-point lead, meaning Valley needed two scores to take the lead.
"On film, we saw that when they get down, it's demoralizing,'' Sturm said. "The worse off they get, the better it is for the other team. We just wanted to push them to their limit and see what it would do. We did, and it worked out.''
The highlights were few for Valley, which wound up being outrushed 174-158 and outpassed 173-64 and went just 2 of 17 passing.
Matt Whiteside hit Dante Wilkerson with a 48-yard pass in the first quarter to put the ball at the PC 8, but on fourth-and-goal from the 2, Whiteside's pass was tipped and intercepted by Roedersheimer while lying on his back in the end zone.
Darius Hutchinson finally got Valley on the board in the second quarter with a 50-yard touchdown run to make it 7-6 with 1:37 left before halftime, but the Greyhounds saw PC negate that, quickly moving 55 yards to score before the break.
Valley's best moment came to start the third quarter, when it rode the running of Cody Winter to move 59 yards in nine plays to make it 15-14. Winter had eight carries for 44 yards on the drive, including a 1-yard TD run, and Henry Barron took a reverse 20 yards.
"We came out and changed the blocking a little bit,'' Hopkins said, "and took it to them right there.
"Then we got behind and had to try and catch up, and there's not much you can do about it. Some games you can't do anything about it. People are hurt and you miss passes and fumble the ball. The next thing you know, you're behind by three [TDs].''
Catholic matched that march by Valley with an even better one, covering 66 yards in 12 plays, converting three third downs along the way. The Crusaders also protected the ball all day, committing no turnovers.
"The potential's there,'' Sturm said. "We've shown this throughout the season in glimpses. We just haven't carried it over from game to game. What we've got to do now is just carry it over.''
Davis caught seven passes for 139 yards for the Crusaders, and Sturm also led the team in rushing with 62 yards on 20 carries.
For Valley, Winter was held to 59 yards on 16 carries after coming into the game averaging 113 yards a contest.
One of the Greyhounds' missing players was Raeshawn Breckenridge, who Hopkins hopes will heal enough to return next week. The speedy Breckenridge, who alternates with Whiteside at quarterback, has thrown for four TDs, run for one and also returned an interception for a score.
"We missed him a lot,'' Hopkins said.
Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or firstname.lastname@example.org.