After a mistake-filled first half that staked Shadle Park to a 19-7 lead at intermission, West Valley stormed back with 21 unanswered points to earn a 28-19 nonleague victory at Albi Stadium on Friday.
Alyjouah Rollins caught touchdown passes of 7, 68 and 79 yards for the Eagles.
“It really was a story of two halves,” West Valley coach Craig Whitney said. “We’re still trying to figure ourselves out and find what we can do and what we can’t do.”
What the Eagles couldn’t do in the first half was run the football. Throwing the ball wasn’t much more successful at first and then turned downright disastrous when a Matt Allen pass was picked off by Logan Doyle and returned 80 yards for the Highlanders’ first touchdown.
“We got off to a bad start,” Allen said. “It was really bad. Insanely bad.”
Special teams kept the Eagles in the game.
On fourth and 2 at midfield, Shadle Park disguised their formation but did a direct snap to Doyle, the punter. But West Valley’s defensive end Dakota Brown stormed into the backfield to smother the kick, then gathered up the loose ball and returned it to the Shadle 12.
Three plays later, Allen found Rollins for the first of their three touchdown passes to even the game at 7-7.
Quarterback Ryan Schmidt scrambled for a touchdown to put the Highlanders ahead 13-0 after a failed PAT.
Then came the insanely bad part of the first half happened for West Valley.
With time running out in the first half and with no need to even snap the ball, the Eagles tried to pass from their own 21-yard line. Allen scrambled out of the pocket and fumbled. Shadle’s Zach Krotzer scooped up the loose ball and rumbled to the 3.
From there Schmidt hit Isaiah Webb-Campbell for a touchdown. The Highlanders led 19-7 after a second missed PAT.
The Eagles began using two tight ends in the second half to help slow the Shadle Park pass rush and give Allen time to throw. The move paid off big.
Allen threw deep to Rollins in the third quarter and the big receiver was covered by Schmidt in coverage. The ball took a bounce off both sets of hands and popped into the air. Rollins snared it and ran the final 30 of a 68-yard touchdown.
“I don’t know what happened, exactly,” Rollins explained. “We just bobbled the ball between us and I came up with it.”
After forcing Shadle Park to punt, the Eagles got the ball on their own 21 and went right back to the pass. Allen fired toward midfield, where Rollins and Schmidt went for the ball simultaneously. Rollins came down with the ball and Schmidt bounced off the Eagles receiver.
Suddenly alone along the sideline with the football in his hands, Rollins looked first for the official. When he saw no indication of a penalty, he turned and raced to the end zone for a 78-yard touchdown to take the lead, 21-19.
“They wanted a (pass interference) call on that play,” Rollins said. “But I didn’t push off and I just ran.”
“Alyjouah has really stepped up, not just as a player but as a leader,” Whitney said. “Leaders and players make plays.”
Rollins caught seven passes for 182 yards. Allen was 10 of 19 for 195 yards with two interceptions.
Doyle led Shadle with 91 yards rushing on 13 carries.
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