A week ago, Valley Center tasted victory for the first time in 2020.
The Hornets didn’t want to stop there.
Valley Center held Salina Central’s offense below 250 yards, tailback Dominic Phillips ran for 148 yards, and the Hornets defeated the Mustangs, 14-12, for the first time in program history. Valley Center improved to 2-2 while Salina Central dropped to 0-4.
Points came at a premium in the first half. Both teams combined for six punts, four by Salina Central alone. The Mustangs also turned the ball over on downs twice, both teams fairly deep in Hornet territory.
The Hornets drew first blood with their second to final drive as quarterback Kaleb Harden found receiver Hunter Stacy on a 15-yard score with 5:38 to play in the half. After a Central punt, Phillips gashed Central’s defense with runs of 11 and 14 yards, quickly setting the Hornets up at the 31-yard line. Harden then floated a pass to the far side of the goal line, hooking up with receiver Gage Phillips to extend the Valley Center advantage to 14-0 before intermission.
Central didn’t waver. In fact, the Mustangs had a perfect start to the third period. Central forced a three-and-out, receiving the ball at midfield. Four plays later, junior quarterback Parker Kavanagh delivered a strike to senior wideout Logan Losey on a 29-yard TD. The PAT was blocked, leaving the score at 14-6 with 7:57 to play in the third.
On the ensuing drive, Valley Center fumbled the ball away for the second time in the game, recovered by Central at the Hornet 38-yard line. Slowly but surely, the Mustangs found the end zone on a three-yard pass by Kavanagh to junior receiver Hayden Vidricksen. The two-point conversion was unsuccessful, keeping the margin at 14-12 with 3:21 to play in the third.
Salina Central had another opportunity to take the lead when the Mustangs forced a third fumble, picked up at the Mustang 15. Unfortunately, the Mustangs settled for a punt, bouncing to the 33. Valley Center marched into Central territory, but faced a 4th and seven with under two minutes to play. Harden threw a pass to Gage Phillips, who appeared to be stopped short of the first down marker. Instead, Phillips clawed for an extra two yards, sealing the victory for Valley Center.
Harden completed seven passes for 98 yards and two scores. Dominic Phillips logged 28 carries for 148. Valley Center was 3-for-3 on fourth downs.
Meanwhile, Central was 1-for-4. Kavanagh threw for 188 yards and two scores. Losey finished with seven catches for 116 yards and a touchdown, good for the Nex-Tech Wireless Player of the Game.
Salina Central stays at Salina Stadium next Friday when the Mustangs host Ark City. Coverage begins with the Freddy’s and Mokas Pregame Show at 6:45 on Sports Radio 1150 KSAL.