There wasn’t a lot to do at halftime in terms of adjustments for Spring Valley coach Brad Dingess and his staff.
Most of what the Timberwolves were doing was working — when Spring Valley wasn’t working against itself, that is.
So, holding just a six-point lead at halftime, the Timberwolves cut down on some of the miscues that plagued them in the first half. Eventually, Spring Valley’s ball-hogging rushing attack wore down a game South Charleston defense in a 42-14 decision Friday night.
“We’ve got to come out and play our type of football,” Dingess said. “You can’t turn the ball over and stuff like that, like we did, but we kept fighting through it. We had to fight through a lot of stuff tonight.
“I was proud of our kids the way they came out in the second half and played.”
Statistically, Spring Valley enjoyed its normal gorging on the ground, racking up 366 rushing yards, with five Timberwolves rushing for at least 50 yards, led by Owen Chafin’s 78 on 14 carries.
But hidden in the grand totals were a bevy of mistakes that hurt Spring Valley early, including three first-half fumbles. The Timberwolves were also penalized 14 times for 146 yards.
In many ways, it was a characteristic opening half for the Spring Valley offense.
The Timberwolves rolled up a 17:41-6:19 advantage in time of possession and chewed up 216 yards, all on the ground, compared to 30 total yards for South Charleston.
But the positives were equaled by some unusual mistakes for Spring Valley (4-0).
Each of the Timberwolves’ three featured backs — Graeson Malashevich, Isaac Howard and Chafin — fumbled once in the first half, with Chafin’s coming on the second play from scrimmage.
South Charleston’s Romeo Dunham recovered and returned the ball to the Spring Valley 28-yard line. Five plays later, Jayden Johnson punched into the end zone from a yard out to give the Black Eagles (0-4) an early 7-0 advantage.
That would be about it for offensive highlights for SC, though, despite being handed several golden opportunities. The Black Eagles finished with just 71 total yards and four first downs.
“They had their backs against the wall the whole game,” Dingess said of his defense. “They kept us in the ballgame as bad as we played offensively and we were able to finish them off in the second half.”
That unit has been spectacular all season despite not necessarily getting the praise the team’s ground-and-pound offense does. Dingess said it’s a motivating factor.
“Our defense is better than our offense right now,” Dingess said. “Our size and those guys up front, they block you. But our defense is pretty good, they swarm to the ball.”
Howard fumbled on the South Charleston 34 on the ensuing drive but SC was limited to a three-and-out.
That’s when the Timberwolves went on one of their long, signature marches, this one spanning 13 plays and 52 yards, capped by a 1-yard scoring plunge from Howard to tie things up at 7.
The Timberwolves took the lead with 3:10 left in the second quarter on a 14-play, 78-yard drive, with Malashevich diving in from 1 yard out to provide the finishing touch.
In the second half, Spring Valley scored on four of its five drives, with Luke Christopher scoring on runs of 3 and 12 yards, Chafin getting in from 7 yards and Brodie Brumfield scoring on a 1-yard dive.
Johnson scored South Charleston’s second-half touchdown on a run of 2 yards and finished with 41 yards on 16 carries to lead a Black Eagles offense that mustered just 70 total yards.
It was the fourth game in a brutal opening five-game stretch for SC that will include a bye before a date with Huntington in two weeks.
The results haven’t been there, and SC coach Donnie Mays said there are no moral victories. But he did admit, even in another lopsided loss, that he saw improvement from his team, especially in terms of toughness.
“Each week the schedule has gotten tougher and it won’t be any easier with Huntington,” Mays said. “We got a lot better in certain areas tonight.
“Our kids played angry tonight and played with a chip on their shoulder. Those turnovers by Spring Valley in the first half, we forced those turnovers. We put hats on elbows and ripping balls loose, so that’s good stuff.”