Storm Stops Sandhills 58-36: Hosts Semi-Final Game Against Harvard
November 13, 2019
Creek Valley's dream season continued with a convincing win against the Sandhills Valley Mavericks on the road Friday night to move their record to 10-and-0 and advance to the semi-finals of the NSAA D-6 State Tournament.
The number three seeded Storm hosts number two seed Harvard in Chappell on Friday at 4:30 p.m.
Prior to the game, both coaches were worried about their opponent's team speed and the Sandhills squad knew they would have to somehow shut down the Storm running attack if they were to win the contest, as the Mavericks had given up over 430 yards rushing per game over the season. Creek Valley head coach Joe Kupper knew that his team would need to be sharp against the Sandhill's defense, a unit that had 72 tackles for a loss in the season.
Creek Valley started with the ball, and on the second play from scrimmage senior Patrick Hansen cut back against the Maverick's defense and ran the ball all the way for a touchdown, and after junior Oakley Hodge's extra point kick the Storm had a quick 8-to-0 lead.
The Mavericks struck right back with junior quarterback Conner Phillips connecting with junior William Sisson for a bomb down the field. Sisson was able to beat Creek Valley junior Justin Ningen's coverage, and reeled in the catch and took it all the. way for a touchdown to tie the score at 8-to-8.
Creek Valley was forced to punt on their next series, and also lost junior Tucker Graeff for the rest of the game as he re-injured his foot.
Sandhills again struck wih another bomb from Phillips to Sisson, and this time Sisson was able to reel in the catch after some pushing against Ningen, and again took the ball all the way for the score, and the Sandhills team was up 14-to-8.
Kupper commented on Ningen's coverage, saying, "I think the biggest thing was that he was being a little too aggressive in the first two series. He was playing Sisson a little too tight to the line of scrimmage. Once Justin backed off a little bit, his coverage was excellent the rest of the night."
After the second quick score by Sandhills, there was no panic coming from the Creek Valley sideline. Kupper said, "It was not the first time that we have played from behind this year. The guys have flat bought in to what we do. They know and believe in their hearts that if we stick to the game plan and the process that things will work out." The Storm stuck to their game plan and moved the ball down the field, with a big chunk coming from sophomore Lucas Trujillo's 30 yard run. But the Storm's offense stalled, and turned the ball over on fourth down. Sandhills again tried for the big play, but the Storm's adjustments turned what started to be a great day to throw for Phillips into an exercise in futility. Dropped passes and overthrows started to become the norm for the Mavericks, and they were forced to punt. Creek Valley took over, and Hansen went to work picking up 26 yards on a scramble then cashing in a 20 yard run for a touchdown, and the Storm were up 22-to-14 and never looked back.
The Storm's defense then took over the game, forcing punts while continuing to add to the scoreboard. The defense stopped all of the Maverick's drives and built a 38-to-14 lead before the half. The Mavericks tried to strike back, but the swarming Storm defense kept the pressure on, resulting in drops and miscues by Sandhills. Sophomore Kordell Lovitt filling in for Graeff again had a stellar performance, disrupting the offense and playing good coverage against the Maverick's passing attempts.
The second half continued with the Mavericks unable to move the ball while the Storm defense generated turnovers. Although the Creek Valley team had turnover issues of their own with fumbles by Ningen and Hansen, the Mavericks were unable to capitalize on the Storm's errors, putting them further behind.
Nearing the end of the third quarter, Hansen took off on a 53 yard touchdown run that had him breaking tackles, changing directions, then finally breaking out of what seemed to be a sure tackle to get to the end zone, putting the Storm up 44-to-14 and effectively ending the game. Kupper used as many substitutes as possible for the remainder of the contest, and at the final gun the scoreboard read 58-to-36, and the Storm were moving on to host the semi-final game at Creek Valley.
Hansen had another fantastic game, completing 8 passes for 108 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 269 yards and 4 touchdowns. Ningen had two interceptions along with 62 yards rushing, while Trujillo rushed for 147 yards and 2 touchdowns. Hodges hauled in two touchdown passes and made five extra point kicks in the victory.