Samuel D. Logan
The Valdosta Daily Times
The Valdosta High Wildcats lost another region game Friday night, this time to the Colquitt Packers, 17-10.
The offense was able to establish the run for the first half but that was not the case during the second. Once again the Wildcats struggled to move the ball through the air when it mattered, failing on a big fourth down conversion that would have kept the game alive for them.
“We had some good drives and were able to establish the run early. That kind of went away as the game went along. They have a really good football team,” said Valdosta Head Coach Rance Gillespie. “We have to find a way to protect better and establish a consistent run game.”
The defense played hard, keeping the ‘Cats in the game until the final minutes. The ‘Cats caused two fumbles but were not able to intercept the Packers during the game.
“Our kids played hard. We gave up some big plays on defense but they’ve played well all season and played well again tonight,” said Gillespie.
With the Packers receiving the ball first, the team marched down the field in a drive covering 65 yards. The Wildcat defense struggled on third downs, giving the Packers the momentum to drive down the field until an incomplete pass on third down forced the Packers to kick a field goal.
On the Wildcats' first drive, senior running back Malcolm Joseph burst through the hole for a large 25-yard gain to move the Wildcats into Packer territory. The drive stalled quickly however as sophomore quarterback Seth Shuman was hurried on second down and sacked on third, forcing the ‘Cats to punt.
Valdosta answered on their second drive, putting together a string of runs by ‘Cats second senior running back Nelson Herring that led to three first downs. The ‘Cats could not reach the end zone and settled to tie the game at 3-3.
On the next Packers drive, a completed catch resulted in a fumble that was recovered and advanced by the Packers. The Wildcat defense continued to struggle on third down, but was able to stop the Packers to force a field-goal attempt on fourth down. On the attempt, the Packers faked the kick but were unable to convert. However, the Wildcats were given a costly roughing the passer penalty to move the chains. After a successful defensive stop, the Packers attempted another field goal but it went wide left.
Valdosta scored on the next drive, thanks to three costly 15-yard penalties on the Packers. After moving into the red zone, Seth Shuman fired off a pass to freshman tight end/receiver Khalil McClain for a Wildcat touchdown, making the score Valdosta 10, Colquitt County 3 at the half.
On the Wildcats' first drive of the second half, the ‘Cats were forced to punt; however, the Packers muffed the punt allowing the ‘Cats' drive to continue. They were forced to punt again after the drive stalled but backed the Packers to their own one-yard line.
Valdosta made some questionable decisions in the second half, going for a fourth and could not convert, making it the second failed fourth-down attempt.
After a series of punts from both teams, the Packers finally wore the Wildcat defense down to allow Packer running back Shiam King to score a 50-yard touchdown run. The extra point was blocked by VHS and the score stood 10-9, with the Wildcats clinging to the lead.
On the Wildcats' ensuing possession, kicker Brennan Goodson had a kick blocked by the Packers and they recovered on their own 20.
On the Packers' next drive, they scored on a one-yard run by King, making the score 17-10 after a successful two-point conversion.
On the last Wildcat drive, Shuman completed passes to Joseph and receivers Alex Cason and Ricco Berry but was also sacked and threw an incompletion on the ‘Cats' third failed fourth-down conversion.
The Packers proceeded to kneel, running the clock out and sealing their 17-10 victory.