original doc martens Valdosta falls hard in Winnersville Classic
VALDOSTA Coming off a season to remember, Valdosta’s first game as reigning Class 6A champions was one to forget.
The Wildcats entered their showdown against the Vikings with three straight victories in the series, and they exited Martin Stadium Friday with the most lopsided loss in Winnersville history 45 0.
Prior to the game, Valdosta head coach Alan Rodemaker spoke about three keys to the game for his team: establish the run, protect the ball, win special teams. The Wildcats failed in all three areas Friday.
Valdosta struggled to find any rhythm offensively, let alone control the ball and the clock as it did during last year’s contest in which the Wildcats rushed for more than 250 yards.
Of six first half drives, four ended it three and outs for the the Wildcats. In a drive spanning the end of the first quarter through the opening seconds of the second, Valdosta picked up a single first down, and the final drive of the first half was simply a kneel.
Through the first half, the Wildcats totaled just 21 yards of offense with a passing attack that had lost a total of 11 yards.
“I just thought, we didn’t get anything going offensively,” Rodemaker said. “We played on our end of the field the whole first half, and really, third quarter.”
Lowndes scored a touchdown on Michael Barrett’s 8 yard touchdown pass to Ghetti Brown, but all it would get the rest of the half is a field goal,
as Valdosta defense put up a valiant effort against the highest scoring team in Class 7A a year ago.
It would have been an up hill battle for Valdosta to dig itself out of a 10 point deficit against Lowndes if everything were clicking, but with seemingly everything going wrong, the Wildcats’ comeback chances grew even more bleak.
Valdosta nearly matched its first half offensive output on its first drive of the second half, though when it dropped back to punt it away, the snap came up a little short, causing the Wildcat punter to fall down for a loss of downs, giving Lowndes the ball just outside the red zone.
It looked as if the Wildcats’ defense would bail out the offense again when the Vikings brought out the field goal team. Lowndes ran a fake and the pass fell to the turf, but Valdosta was flagged for a personal foul on the play, giving the possession new life.
A few plays later, Barrett burst into the end zone from five yards out. After a two point conversion, Lowndes’ lead was 18.
Valdosta’s offense took the field for its second possession of the half, but on the first play, quarterback Hunter Holt was picked off at the Wildcats’ 28 yard line. When Lowndes’ offense took the field, it took Barrett one play to find receiver Tayvonn Kyle for a score.
A couple of drives later, Holt was hit fighting for extra yardage and fumbled the ball. Lowndes linebacker Tyson Shaw picked it up and raced the other way for a touchdown and a 32 point lead.
Wildcat reserve quarterback Jude Ard took over in the fourth quarter and tossed a pick 6 on his first attempt as the Vikings continued to roll.
“We let it snowball on us,” Rodemaker said. “That’s the reason I thought we struggled so much,
we let it snowball on us. Good character football teams don’t allow that to happen.”