SPRING VALLEY — Coming into Friday night, many thought that Spring Valley’s rugged offensive line and rushing attack would be the difficulty for Hurricane.
As it turned out, it was the Timberwolves’ defense and a key play in the passing game that turned the tide of the game in the second quarter.
Tyson Hall’s interception return changed momentum and ignited a 20-point second quarter as Spring Valley overcame an early deficit to earn a 27-3 win over Hurricane at the Wolves Den on Friday night.
“That was a big play by Tyson that flipped momentum toward us,” Spring Valley coach Brad Dingess said. “I thought we came out flat. It was a bit frustrating — probably for them, too. Nothing was really moving, but it was a good win for us. Any time you win in this conference and hold a team like that to three points, you know your defense is playing well.”
Through two games, Spring Valley’s starting defense has yet to give up a touchdown against Wayne and Hurricane — two teams expected to be playoff bound at season’s end.
The complexion of the game changed in a three-minute stretch of the second quarter as Spring Valley took control. Hurricane led 3-0 and had momentum after an 18-yard run by Christian Hill on a third-and-12 that put the Redskins near midfield.
However, the Redskins’ next play went the other way as Hall stepped in front of Austin Womack’s pass to the outside and returned it 52 yards for a score to give the Timberwolves the lead.
“It killed us,” Hurricane coach Jeremy Taylor said. “Womack was just trying to make a play. He thought he had the read and then he got in a hurry and they picked it off. That’s on me for giving the [run-pass] option like that. We just can’t do stuff like that. To play a team like them, you have to play almost perfect and you can’t have that.”
From there, Graeson Malashevich came up with a pair of big plays, notching a long punt return to set the Timberwolves up in Hurricane territory. On the first play of the drive, Malashevich hauled in a 38-yard scoring pass from Nate Ellis to put Spring Valley up 13-3 with 7:39 left in the second quarter.
Sensing the momentum change, Spring Valley used its size to wear down the Redskins from that point. The Timberwolves followed another Hurricane three-and-out with a 64-yard drive, capped by Isaac Howard’s 4-yard scoring run to forge a 20-3 halftime lead.
Following the halftime break, the Timberwolves salted the game away, moving behind a massive offensive line, led by Ohio State commit Doug Nester and sophomore Wyatt Milum to take off more than half the third-quarter clock with a 14-play, 85-yard drive. Ellis scored on a 3-yard keeper to end all doubt.
Taylor said that those short offensive drives put his defense back on the field quickly against the Spring Valley offense, which has the size to move most opponents it faces.
“They have 1,000 pounds of beef on one side over there,” Taylor said. “I’d run at that, too. There’s not a whole lot you can do about it. You can scheme all you want, but in the end, when you have those three big guys with that tailback running at you, it’s hard to stop them.”
The big second quarter for Spring Valley came after Hurricane used its special teams to forge an early 3-0 lead.
The Redskins got a 62-yard punt from Timothy McCutchen to pin Spring Valley deep and got a defensive stop to set up a short field before using the legs of Hill to drive down inside the Timberwolves’ 10-yard line before settling for a 26-yard field goal from McCutchen to take a 3-0 lead after one quarter.
Hill had 108 of Hurricane’s 119 total yards in the first half and ended the game with 159 rushing yards.
“Hill is a great back, but we kept them in check when we needed to,” Dingess said. “Our defense played pretty well.”
The biggest issue for the Redskins was the inability to get the passing game going. While Hill was consistently moving the ball, there was no other dimension to the Redskins’ offense that was working.
Womack was ineffective in the first half, going 4 of 9 for just 14 yards. That prompted Taylor to make a change at halftime, bringing in Nathan Roy in the second half. However, Roy did not complete a pass in four attempts.
“I was pleasantly surprised with how well we ran between the tackles against those guys,” Taylor said. “I thought we ran the ball pretty well, but in the end, you’ve got to be a little balanced.”
Spring Valley’s balanced ground attack didn’t break many big runs, but methodically moved the ball throughout the night, rushing for 235 yards and nearly 6 yards per carry. Owen Chafin finished with 87 yards on the ground while Howard added 81 and the touchdown.