Indians caught in Valley Catholic's downpour
Hardy's 88-yard pick-six seals Valley Catholic's 20-7 win
If you're going to beat the eighth-ranked league champions, you have to knock them out.
With the Valiants' biggest win ever in peril, 6-foot, 3-inch senior linebacker Daniel Hardy who had a day most players can only dream of sealed a 20-7 triumph with an 88-yard pick-six his third touchdown of the game on Thursday, Oct. 13, in Beaverton.
Up 13-6 with the Indians (4-3 overall, 3-1 Cowapa League) 12 yards from a tying score with 37 seconds left, Hardy picked Quinn Searle's pass to the flat and thundered the other way for a score.
The defeat of twice-defending Cowapa League champion Scappoose was the first for Valley Catholic (5-2, 2-2) after it lost twice by an average of 64-7 since coming up from Class 3A in 2014.
I'm still confident in our team, said Searle, a senior quarterback who completed 15 of 31 passes for 152 yards. There's a lot of stuff we need to work on to beat Astoria next week. We just have to watch film and play how we usually play.
The Tribe was in the driver's seat for its third league title before it ran into the Valiant's vastly improved defense, but it can still beat the No. 2 Fishermen (6-1, 4-0) for the league co-championship on Homecoming in the regular-season finale at 7 p.m. on Friday.
In wind and non-stop rain, neither the third-ranked Valiants offense nor the Indians' famed spread attack could get running.
We made mistakes and they didn't, said Jimmy Jones, a Scappoose junior running back. We played bad all around. We came in with the wrong mindset. We were too relaxed.
Backed up to the Tribe's 20-yard line with 2:30 to go, however, Searle hit Tanner Kramer for a 45-yard catch down the right sideline and the Indians were in business in Valley Catholic territory.
The Valiants turned two Tribe turnovers into touchdowns as Hardy also returned a second-quarter fumble for a score.
Searle went for an option pitch to Jones midway through the second quarter, but Valley Catholic senior defensive end Jack Grasberger (6-foot-5, 210) blew up the play and forced the ball out of Searle's hands. Hardy scooped the ball off the turf, shook a tackle and gave his side a 6-0 lead.
I don't think it was the elements, it was all on us, Searle said. We expected the name on the front of our jersey would make us win. We didn't play as hard as we should've.
Jones answered with a two-yard touchdown run for the Indians' only lead of the night, 7-6, with 3:21 left in the half.
On the very next play from scrimmage, however, Valiants senior quarterback Aidan Welsh threw a pass over the middle that ricocheted from a Scappoose deflection into Hardy's hands, and Hardy hightailed it to a 63-yard score and a 13-7 lead with 3:05 to halftime. Senior defensive lineman Ian Birrell (5-foot-11, 240) roped a sack with 30 seconds left to freeze the lead.
Valley Catholic's defense sniffed out the Tribe's jet sweeps and blanketed the wide receivers while it kept Searle in the pocket. Jones, Kramer and Michael Gift found themselves stopped in their tracks by Grasberger, Hardy, Welsh, Birrell, senior defensive back Joey Braun (6-foot-2, 200), who didn't allow the Indians' dangerous playmakers to break free.
The Valiants also stopped three fourth-down attempts and forced five three-and-outs.
It's been a long time coming, Hardy said. This wasn't just a week of preparation, this was four long years of preparation to win this game. They definitely made us work for it, and props to Scappoose who played a great game we just wanted it. We practice every day for these situations. We were ready.
Jones went for 84 yards on 22 carries, and Tevin Jeannis caught seven passes for 65 yards.
Gift led with nine tackles, and Alex Hansen wrangled eight tackles and 1.5 sacks.
Jack Margheim came down with an interception.
Valley Catholic 20, Scappoose 7
S 0 7 0 0 7
VC 0 13 0 7 20
VC Daniel Hardy fumble recovery (PAT missed)
S Jimmy Jones two-yard run (Benji Davidson PAT)
VC Hardy 63-yard pass from Aidan Welsh (PAT good)
VC Hardy 88-yard interception (PAT good)