CORNING – In one of three football games in the state Friday, Southwest Valley and Nodaway Valley went down to the final minute as the Timberwolves outlasted the Wolverines to hang on for a 22-15 win.
Down 15-8 in the fourth quarter, Nodaway Valley put together a strong drive with a combination of slant routes from quarterback Nate Russell to Boston Devault, converting a fourth-and-5 to extend the drive. After getting to the one-yard line, Tony Ayase punched in a run up the middle on a direct snap, giving the Wolverines a 15-14 lead with 4:35 left in the game.
Southwest Valley’s rushing attack responded after taking over the game in the second half. The Timberwolves took three minutes off the clock with a combination of sweeps and rushes up the middle before a big play through the air.
After going "back to the basics" with power football, Southwest Valley head coach Anthony Donahoo set up a play for a speedy freshman on the edge.
Freshman Isaac Currin went streaking down the sideline on a go-route and quarterback Brendan Knapp sent a ball over two Nodaway Valley defenders.
“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have any doubt,” Donahoo said with a laugh on throwing to a freshman in the key spot in the game. “You see it in practice, but you don’t know what it’s going to look like when the game comes on Friday night.”
Donahoo said with Currin not playing receiver throughout the game, the offense set the play up at the beginning of the fourth quarter, putting Currin outside. With a 6-foot-6-inch tight end streaking down the middle, the safety moved to the inside of the field instead of staying outside.
Currin caught the ball inches from the sideline and ran 47 yards untouched to the end zone, putting Southwest Valley up 22-16 with 1:22 left in the game. Currin had two catches Friday for 51 yards and one touchdown.
With time still left on the clock, Nodaway Valley had a chance to make a game-winning drive.
Russell went to his reliable target for the entire game, Caelen Devault. Russell to Caelen Devault was deadly all night. The combination gave Caelen 11 receptions – breaking Matthew Mitchell’s 10 catch, 17-year old school record – for 126 yards.
“It was a coming-out party for the Deavult brothers,” Nodaway Valley head coach Duane Matthess said. “I think the Ayase’s, too. I wasn’t trying to be cute when I said, ‘it’s pick your poison with us.’ We have some playmakers all across the board.”
The duo continued the hot streak with a jump ball on the short side of the field to put the Wolverines in Southwest Valley territory with less than one minute remaining in the fourth. Keeping up the tempo, Russell went back to Caelen Devault for the second-straight play.
“It was a situation where I told Nate, ‘we’re in hurry up, you can’t sit back and try to make reads because we haven’t had a whole lot of time in the pocket,’” Matthess said. “I said, ‘it’s got to be catch-and-go, but we have to mix it up. Don’t just get stuck on Caelen.’ I think on that play, obviously it was a matchup we liked, ... I think Nate would probably tell you he would like to have that one back.”
Donahoo said Southwest Valley's best corner, Blake Thomas, was out this week after breaking his arm and felt Thomas could have limited Caelen Devault better on the outside, but the team made the play when they needed.
The Timberwolves went to a Cover 2 zone defense as a defender rushed to Caelen Devault. Marshall Knapp, the corner on the play, leaped in front of Devault to make the interception in the red zone.
Matthess said he told Russell the interception wasn’t on him, and he’ll have “many more plays that are going to outshine that moment.”
Donahoo and Southwest Valley’s defense expected the ball going to Caelen Devault, letting the remaining receivers free across the middle of the field.
“We were going to give up the slant, but just didn’t want to get beat deep,” Donahoo said. “We were just waiting for (Boston Devault) to hit that slant and go or something big to take the top off our defense.”
Despite the loss, Matthess said he saw some positives in the team’s first game of the year and told his guys that they’ll be able to win games throughout the season.
“Give the credit to (Southwest Valley),” Matthess said. “They’re a great team, and they’re going to win games this year. But, I told our guys, ‘what’s that say to us if that’s a great team that we’re able to compete with? We’re a good team, too.' We’ll fix it and be back at it Monday.”
The first half was slow offensively for both sides as mistakes and takeaways were a big factor early.
Knapp struggled through the air in the first half, throwing three interceptions. Jon Gebbie grabbed two while Caelen Devault had an interception of his own.
The Wolverine defense was able to come up with stops when it needed, limiting Southwest Valley’s running game. Caelen Devault had eight tackles to lead the team while Cachlea Kennedy had seven and Adam Ayase had six. Avery Phillipi also assisted on 11 tackles.
Southwest Valley’s defense was no slouch in the first half either. Tallen Myers, Tucker TePoel, Kaden Jacobs and Knapp were strong leaders for the Timberwolves, pressuring Russell and keeping him uncomfortable in the pocket.
The Timberwolves had four sacks on the night, with Jacobs recording three in his six tackles. Myers had 6 1/2 tackles and TePoel finished with six tackles and one sack.
“I just think, to be honest, we’re not a very deep team,” Matthess said. “We just need to find a way to dig a little bit deeper, be a little bit better conditioned to be able to withstand four quarters of big-time football at this level. Our kids just need to get a little bit better with that, and that starts with me. That’s on me, that’s not on them.”
Offenses didn’t come alive until the second half when Nodaway Valley started the scoring off the second-half kickoff.
A short kick was touched by a Southwest Valley returner, but Nodaway Valley recovered.
With good field position, the Wolverines drove down the field. Tony Ayase scored the first points of the season on a run up the middle. Ayase rushed for 27 yards on 14 attempts while the rest of the team rushed for a combined negative 27 yards.
Southwest Valley responded with a touchdown from Knapp after help from the Wolverines’ special teams encroaching on a fourth-and-1 play.
Matthess said the team was caught with a few people out of position and will clean up the penalties, still having time in the season.
Nodaway Valley had four penalties for 30 yards.
Cade Myers scored the second touchdown of the game after a 71-yard Knapp run to put Southwest Valley up 14-8. Knapp had 171 yards on 31 attempts. Through the air, he was 5-for-10 with 69 yards.
Despite allowing a big play and touchdown, the Wolverines responded. Ayase scored again, this time with 4:35 left in the fourth quarter to give Nodaway Valley a 15-14 lead.
Southwest Valley quickly reclaimed the lead on Knapp and Currin’s game-winning touchdown pass, eventually finishing the game. The close win early in the year excited Donahoo about the remainder of the season.
“Defenses have a little bit more work to do this year because we’re a little bit bigger, a little bit more mature,” Donahoo said. “Our guys are just a little bit more mature. You sprinkle in some freshmen enthusiasm, and it makes a great team.”
Points by quarter
Visitor 0 0 8 7 — 15
Home 0 0 8 14 — 22
NV – T. Ayase 4 run (Two-point conversion), 7:37.
SWV – B. Knapp 4 run (Two-point conversion), :06.
SWV – B. Knapp 1 run (Extra point blocked), 9:23.
NV – T. Ayase 1 run (C. Devault kick), 4:35.
SWV – I. Currin 43 pass from B. Knapp (Two-point conversion), 1:22.
First downs 13 16
Rushes-yards 26-0 37-206
Passing 17-26 5-10
Passing yards 187 69
Total yards 187 275
Punts-avg. 2-33.5 1-36
Return yards None 0
Fumbles-lost None None
Penalties-yards 4-30 4-35
RUSHING — NV: T. Ayase 14-27, E. Cooney 1-2, B. Devault 2--3, A. Ayase 2--6, N. Russell7--20. SWV: B. Knapp 31-158, B. Grantz 5-29, H. Crill 6-16, C. Myers 1-1.
PASSING — NV: N. Russell 17-26-1-187. SWV: B. Knapp 5-10-3-69.
RECEIVING — NV: C. Devault 11-126, B. Devault 5-42, A. Ayase 1-19. SWV: O. Wilkinson 1-15, I. Currin 2-51, T. TePoel 1-6, Brock Bowden 1-4.
PUNTS-AVG. — NV: J. Gebbie 2-67. SWV: T. TePoel 1-35.
TACKLE LEADERS (solo-assists) — NV: C. Devault 8-8. SWV: T. Myers 6.5.
INTERCEPTIONS — NV: J. Gebbie (2), C. Devault. SWV: M. Knapp.
FUMBLE RECOVERIES — None.
TACKLES FOR LOSS (YARDS) — NV: T. Ayase (1), M. Weber (1). SWV: T. TePoel (3.5), K. Jacobs (3), T. Myers (1.5)
SACKS — NV: None. SWV: K. Jacobs (3), T. TePoel (1).