The final score might have suggested the Valley View Eagles skated to an easy win, but in the Class 2A Division I regional quarterfinal tilt, they had to deliver drives when the game was in the balance.
Valley View led 19-14 over Crawford before using back-to-back touchdowns from senior running back Clint Epperson to deliver the knockout punch for a 33-14 victory to advance to the regional semifinal game against San Saba with a trip to the regional final on the line.
Valley View head coach Curtis King said Crawford was the Eagles’ toughest test of the season.
“It was good because Crawford was a really good team and probably the best team we played this year,” King said. “They were real physical and we’re beat up, but we made plays when we had to. It kind of tells you where our program is right now. I think we’re pretty good.”
The duo of Epperson and senior running back Luis Morales captained the Eagles’ offense, which ran for a total of 340 yards.
Epperson rushed for 136 yards on 22 carries and three touchdowns while Morales had 115 yards on 14 touches.
King said he thought the Eagles’ running game wore down Crawford as the game went along.
“I kind of thought Crawford kind of got tired,” King said. “I could kind of see it in their body language, especially in the fourth quarter. We’ve been running ball a lot and have been pretty physical. They have to tackle Clint and Luis 35 times during the game. I could kind of see us making strides in that pivotal period.”
The duo of Epperson and Morales continues to lead the way offensively, but King said the entire senior class has driven the team this season.
“All the seniors have led the way and especially with those two, they offset each other so well,” King said. “Clint is a straight ahead, run at you type of guy. Luis has a bunch of moves. He can go left, right, forward, straight or back — whatever he needs to do. It’s just hard to prepare for both of them.”
Freshman quarterback Logan Lewis was 3-of-8 passing for 44 yards and a 13-yard touchdown pass to Christian McMurray.
Defensively, the Eagles snuffed out Crawford’s own ground game and held them to less than 80 yards rushing.
The Eagles downed Italy 41-20 in the area round game on Nov. 22 to advance past the second round for the first time in 27 years.
After their win over Crawford, the celebration was more subdued and King said that’s because the end goal of a state championship is within their grasp.
“I think the boys enjoyed it after the second round, but now they kind of realize that it’s all about how far they go now,” King said. “There’s eight teams left. And we’re asking the question, why not us? We beat some good teams to get here and it’s good for the boys. I’m proud of them.”
Patrick Hayslip can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @PatrickHayslip