Resiliency lifts Valiants to victory against Knights

Mary Ann Miller | Special to the TimesValwood’s Blaine Cooper (22) stiff-arms a Frederica Academy defender during a game Friday at Goddard Field. Valwood defeated Frederica 27-13

HAHIRA –– Valwood versus Frederica Academy was one of those games where it all came down to the fourth quarter. 

Thrity-four of the 40 combined points were scored in the final 12 minutes, and the Valiants showed their resiliency in the end by leaving victorious 27-13.

The first three quarters were a defensive slugfest and the fourth quarter began with Frederica down 6-0. 

Frederica was lined up close to the goal line and ran in a touchdown to tie the game 6-6. Their two-point conversion was then stuffed and 11:56 remained on the clock.

At this point in the game Valwood’s Zach Paulk was playing quarterback for Pate Hogan who went down with a stinger. On the next drive, Paulk led the Valiants down to the redzone where running back Blaine Cooper muscled his way in for a touchdown to put Valwood up 13-6 with 9:24 left.

Valwood’s defense forced yet another punt to get the ball back, but Frederica’s defense returned the favor and then some.

For the second time of the night, Valwood botched their punt by fumbling the ball. Unlike the first time when the ball was downed, the Frederica Knights scooped it up and took it in for six.

The point after kick was good, and the score was tied at 13.

“There was never any panic on the sidelines, the kids just made the plays,” said Valwood Head Coach Justin Henderson. “I told them this morning, adversity makes bad teams fall apart, adversity makes mediocre teams survive, and adversity makes excellent teams excellent. That’s what we did, and it was a great night.”

The Valiants started to make plays and marched down field on the following drive. They made it near the goal line once again and let Cooper bulldozer his way in for his second touchdown of the night.

Valwood was now up 20-13 with a little over five minutes to go.

The final 5 minutes saw Valwood halt Frederica’s offense yet again, and they followed it up with a deep touchdown pass from Paulk to Michael Tucker. That turn of events sealed the game, and Valwood notched another win in this rivalry. 

“It’s a step forward,” junior Armani Killebrew said about the win. “North Florida Christian is next, we’re going to take it step for step… We made a lot of mistakes, but we just have to get better from the mistakes, come together as a team, and we can be great.”

Paulk stepped up and delivered as the backup quarterback tonight, finishing 10-14 for 225 yards and a touchdown. Aalah Brown also showed out with eight catches for 108 yards and racked up nine tackles with two sacks defensively. 

Kicker, Gatlin Kimbro, went a flawless 5-for-5, knocking in two field goals and three PATs. 

Valwood will now enter their bye week feeling good after this win.

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