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Wildcats Dominate Hardaway

September 6, 2011
By Monty Long of Valdosta High School

September 3, 2011

Wildcat domination

Valdosta hammers Hardaway 37-7


VALDOSTA — On Friday night, the Valdosta Wildcats played like a well-oiled machine.

Valdosta scored 37 points in the first half, and cruised to a 37-7 win over Hardaway on Friday at Cleveland Field at Bazemore-Hyder Stadium.

“I’m really pleased,” Valdosta head coach Rance Gillespie said. “I thought we played well defensively. I thought offensively we showed signs of growth. ... We had some kids that played a lot better than they did the first week. I (also) thought we played solid on the special teams.”

The Wildcats put the game away by halftime. In the first half, Valdosta scored five touchdowns and amassed 268 yards of total offense.

Quarterback Alex Stephenson completed 9 of 15 passes for 202 yards and two touchdowns in one half of play.

“I thought he played better tonight, I really do,” Gillespie said. “I still think there’s areas in his game that he can improve and I think he knows that, and I think he will. But he certainly played better.”

Just over three minutes into the game, Valdosta’s Jerald Davis returned a punt 24 yards to the Hardaway 13-yard line. On the next play, Nelson Herring took the handoff and went left. Herring got to the outside and sprinted into the end zone for the touchdown.

When Valdosta lined up in the swinging gate before the extra point attempt, Hardaway didn’t line up properly to defend it, so the Wildcats snapped the ball to Chuntony Johnson, who ran the ball in for the two-point conversion, giving Valdosta an 8-0 lead.

On the Wildcats’ next possession, they drove to the Hardaway 24. Then Malcolm Joseph took a handoff, broke through the line and sped into the end zone for a touchdown. Dale Kent’s extra point gave Valdosta a 15-0 lead.

After another three-and-out by Hardaway, Valdosta took over at the Golden Hawks’ 42. On the first play, Tyran Watkins made a leaping 27-yard catch at the 15. Two plays later, Charlie Albritton found a hole between right guard Anthony Evans and right tackle Ronnie Stoney, and dashed 10 yards for the Wildcats’ third touchdown of the first quarter. On the extra point attempt, holder Mac Loudermilk picked up the ball and ran it in for the two-point conversion, giving the Wildcats a 23-0 lead.

The next time the Wildcats got the ball, early in the second quarter, they drove 80 yards in eight plays for another score. Stephenson completed a pair of passes to Davis for 32 and 25 yards, respectively, which helped move the ball to the Golden Hawks’ 25. Then Stephenson found an open Jarvis Roberts out of the backfield, and Roberts outran a defender to the goal line, giving the Wildcats a 30-0 lead.

Late in the half, after a Hardaway punt, Valdosta took over at its 37-yard line. On the first play, Stephenson tossed a screen pass to Albritton. The senior running back caught the ball, turned on his speed and broke away from the defense. Albritton sprinted 63 yards for his second touchdown of the night, and Valdosta’s fifth score of the first half.

The Wildcats headed to the locker room with a 37-0 lead.

The entire second half was played with a running clock. Gillespie let his reserves play the final two quarters.

“Those kids deserve time on that field. They put a lot of work in, they’re a big part of the success that we all have on Friday night,” Gillespie said. “There’s some areas where we’re pretty thin, and it gives us an opportunity to develop a little bit of depth and give some kids some playing time.”

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