Coosa Valley falls in opener despite strong effort

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor

HARPERSVILLE – The Dane Reece era at Coosa Valley got off to a promising start on Friday night, Aug. 18, on the Rebels’ home field after scoring on their first drive of the season, but due to 28 unanswered points in the second half, the debut was spoiled by a 28-6 loss.

Coosa Valley took the opening kickoff to officially start the 2017 season and set themselves up on their own 31-yard line after a pooch kick was fallen on.

It was evident that junior running back Lew Dale was going to be a prominent factor from the Rebels opening drive of the game as the first three plays of the game went to him. The third carry was the most productive when Dale escaped up the right sideline on third and four for a 15-yard run and first down.

Over the next two plays, the Rebels only managed three yards, but on third and seven, senior quarterback Mason Houston rolled to his right and found Tripp Allen deep down the right sideline for a 22-yard gain for another crucial third down conversion. After a personal foul at the end of the play, Coosa Valley was on the Hooper 11-yard line and threatening to score.

The Rebels were forced into another third down two plays later as they faced a third and four from the six-yard line. Just like the previous two third down attempts, Coosa Valley converted when Houston lobbed a pass that floated in the air for a while before senior wide receiver Christian Rose jumped up and snagged it away from a defender and fell backward into the end zone for a touchdown.

The extra point was blocked, but in 3:22 the Rebels had driven down the field to take an early 6-0 lead after converting on their first drive of the season. It was something that had an offense that scored just 12.8 points per game a season ago motivated to taste the end zone more.

After that first score both teams struggled to see any sort of offensive success the rest of the first half due to penalties, bad snaps and poor offensive line play that all led to several possessions leaving each team with 30-plus yards to gain for a first time.

Those struggles by both teams led to the halftime score of 6-0, even with Hooper getting a fifth down that slipped by the referees right before the half.

Coming out in the second half, the Colts weren’t going to let any more opportunities slip away as they realized their offensive and defensive lines were superior.

Hooper started the third quarter with a quick 60-yard touchdown drive to tie the game and added the extra point to take a 7-6 lead.

The Colts used that momentum to wake up their defense as well and were able to apply pressure into the backfield for the remainder of the game. Several sacks and negative plays were putting the Rebels in a tough situation with the defense having to play the majority of the third quarter.

Just before the end of the quarter, still just trailing 7-6, Coosa Valley’s defense had stepped up and gotten them the ball back with good field position. On the second play of the Rebels’ ensuing offensive possession, however, Houston fired a ball deep down the right sideline that was intended for wide receiver Chase Carlee but instead found the hands of Hooper defensive back Cody King for an interception.

The Colts got the ball back with just under three minutes left in the third on their own 10-yard line and went on a long drive transitioning into the fourth quarter. Hooper went 90 yards in three minutes to extend its lead to 14-6 with 10:52 left in the game.

Coosa Valley answered back with a lengthy kickoff return by Jacob Walton as he darted in and out of tacklers to midfield, but a hard hit right before he went down led to a fumble and a second consecutive turnover for the Rebels.

Hooper again took advantage of the gift and scored in two minutes to give them 21 unanswered points in the half.  Coosa Valley had two more drives the remainder of the game, but were unable to move the ball, which led to the Colts adding an insurance touchdown to create the final score of 28-6.

The Rebels fell to 0-1 on the season and travel to Chambers next Friday night, Aug. 25, looking for answers on how to improve in the trenches. The good news is they looked really solid in the first half and still have two more games before they’ll take the field in the team’s first region game of the season on Sept. 8 at Macon East.