Valiants fight to the end before falling 24-22


VC has the ball deep in Sheridan territory in the final minute

BEAVERTON — Valley Catholic was right there.

The Valiant football team, hosting Sheridan on Saturday, was down just two points and driving with 3 minutes, 44 seconds left in the game. Indeed, Valley Catholic pushed all the way to the Spartans' 18-yard line and had a minute left to operate.

But it all went south from there. Sheridan's defense stepped up to record three sacks in Valley Catholic's final four plays and escaped with an extremely tight 24-22 non-league win at Valley Catholic High School. The loss dropped the Valiants' season record to 0-3 while the Spartans improved to 2-0.

by: MILES VANCE - RUN FOR IT - Valley Catholic quarterback Carter Buuck escapes a Sheridan sack attempt during the VC home loss to the Spartans on Saturday.

“I figured with the way the momentum was going the second half — they hadn't been able to stop us with the pass and Liam (Walsh) running through people — I figured if we got the ball we'd have a shot, but a couple things didn't go our way,” said Valley Catholic junior quarterback Carter Buuck, who completed 11-of-19 passes for 132 yards and three touchdowns on Saturday.

“That's what you dream of as a kid. Last second, you're down, you want to get the ball and you want to score. You want to make the game-winning touchdown,” said junior running back Liam Walsh, who carried 20 times for 111 yards. “This week, it didn't really happen, but we're working hard to make sure we don't have to come back for that last touchdown next time.”

While Valley Catholic was as close as could be at game's end, the game couldn't have started much worse for the Valiants. VC opened the game with an onside kick that Sheridan recovered at midfield, and the Spartans recovered three plays later when Joey Hertel ran a counter, broke a tackle and sped 27 yards to score just 1:09 into the game.

It got worse before it got better too. On VC's first offensive possession, the Valiants pushed out to their own 47-yard line, but came up short on a fourth-and-five play and turned the ball over on downs.

The Spartans capitalized again, their ensuing drive highlighted by a 13-yard pickup from Kyle Edwards, a 15-yard VC facemask penalty, and an 18-yard Matt Bushbaum-to-Edwards TD pass down the left sideline to grab a 12-0 lead midway through the quarter.

But the Valiants, winless since Nov. 5 of 2010, did not fold. They stopped the Spartans on their final three possessions of the half — one of those on an interception by Alex Hyland — went into the half down 12-0 and went about the business of re-starting their game plan.

And re-start they did, marching 61 yards to score on the opening drive of the third quarter, with Walsh picking up 17 yards on five carries and Buuck completing 2-of-3 passes, one to Clay Kemper for 21 yards and the touchdown a seven-yarder to Tysen Prunty at the left flag with 7:02 to go in the third. Walsh added the conversion run to cut their deficit to 12-8.

VC then stuffed the Spartans on three straight plays and re-took possession following a short punt and Kemper return to the Sheridan 15-yard line. From there, the Valiants moved up on a Sheridan penalty, Walsh picked up two yards, and Buuck went to Hyland for a 5-yard TD pass at the left flag. The conversion run came up short, but Valley Catholic nonetheless had pushed head for its first lead at 14-12 with 3:31 to go in the third.

That lead didn't last long, however — 13 seconds to be exact. Sheridan's Jacob John took the ensuing kickoff back 85 yards to score and help the Spartans re-take the lead at 18-14.

Sheridan then stopped VC on three straight plays, and tacked on another touchdown — a 28-yard run up the middle by Hertel — 1:19 into the fourth quarter and extended its lead to 24-14.

The Valiants came back strong, though, putting together a 70-yard scoring drive that cut the Spartans' lead down to just two points. Buuck hit Prunty for a 21-yard pickup on that drive, and after a 12-yard TD pass to Kemper was called back by a penalty, went to Prunty again for a 26-yard scoring pass with 8:24 left on the clock. Walsh added the conversion run to cut the gap to 24-22.

“I got a lot of open space and I used my body and Carter found me and got me right on target,” Prunty said. “He always finds the open receiver and he's just right on.”

The Valiant defense came through next, stopping Sheridan on a fourth-and-long play from the VC 38-yard line, and Valley Catholic took over with 3:44 left to play.

From there, Buuck hit Hyland for five yards and Kemper for 11, Kemper ran for 10 more, Walsh picked up three, and a pass interference call moved the ball to the Spartan 18 with 57 seconds to go. But VC got no closer. Buuck was sacked on three of his team's final four downs — once each by John Ray, Hertel and Dominique Card — and the Valiants turned the ball over at the Sheridan 31 with eight seconds left.

“We need to stop playing for three quarters, or three-and-a-half quarters. We need to play a full ballgame,” Walsh said. “That's still what we're working on. We'll work some things out and make sure we play the whole game 100 percent.”

“We'll be looking to bounce back next week so we have (eliminate the) mistakes,” Buuck said. “We think we'll be able to put it together before the end of the year and be a force in league.”

For the game, Kemper carried 10 times for 65 yards, and Prunty had five catches for 65 yards. Hertel led Sheridan with 106 yards on 16 carries.

On Friday, Valley Catholic plays at Umatilla at 7 p.m.