Tigers claw back for a big win
By Jim Bradford PrepsKC Senior Writer
Blue Valley has been a bit of an up-and-down team all year.
There were a few more peaks and valleys Friday night against Blue Valley Southwest, but when pushed came to shove, the big brother flexed its muscle and knocked off the visiting Timberwolves 28-21.
But it wasn’t easy for the old dog of the Blue Valley school district to knock off the newest kid on the block.
“They are a tough, physical football team,” said Blue Valley head coach Eric Driskell. “That was a tough one out there.”
The Tigers battled for everything Friday night, battling back from a pair of 14-point deficits to move to 4-3 on the year and, more importantly, to 1-0 in district play.
While the Ryan McNerlin 4-yard touchdown run with five minutes to play ended up proving to be the game winner, it was a 1-yard plunge by backup quarterback Henry McGrew that might have been the biggest touchdown of the game.
The Tigers had just been stung by an Aaron Ramsey 98-yard touchdown run that put Southwest up 14-0. They responded with a 68-yard drive that featured nine-straight McNerlin runs.
“That was big because we had to get something going,” McNerlin said. “We have a tendency to get off to slow starts, but we really hadn’t been playing that bad. We just needed something to get us going.”
The score cut the Wolves halftime lead to 14-7.
“We had to establish something to get the momentum headed in our direction,” Driskell said.
It didn’t quite worked like they would have liked as Southwest scored the first points of the second half, but the Tigers would score 21 unanswered points to walk away with the win.
“I’m so proud of these guys,” Driskell added. “They just kept fighting and fighting.”
The winning score from McNerlin, who had 33 carries for 183 yards, came on the heels of a 12-play, five-minute drive.
The Tigers were able to step up on defense on the Wolves next possession as Bryan Nugent intercepted a Ramsey pass with less than two minutes to play.
A week ago, the Tigers played into the same sort of drama, coming back to knock off St. Thomas Aquinas after being down by 14 in the fourth quarter.
“Last week was really a sort of statement game for us,” McNerlin said. “This week, we wanted to let everyone know that it wasn’t just a fluke.”
Ramsey finished with three touchdowns and 131 rushing yards n 12 carries. The Wolves had just 59 yards on the ground in the second half.
“Our defense really stepped up in the second half and played well,” Driskell added.
The Timberwolves controlled the game for the first 20 minutes. Ramsey put them up 7-0 with a 2-yard run with 8:21 left in the first half. At the point it was all Southwest. They had outgained Blue Valley 148-23.
The Tigers pinned the Wolves at their own 2-yard line after they went nowhere on their ensuing drive, but Ramsey made sure they weren’t pinned for long. One play and 14 seconds later, Southwest was up 14-0 on the heels of a 98-yard touchdown run with 3:39 left in the half. Ramsey called his own number on the play, went over the left tackle and busted it outside down the sideline, going untouched into the end zone.
The Tigers finally got something going on their next drive. McNerlin made sure of that. The Tigers took over at the 32 and he carried the ball nine straight times, setting the Tigers up with a first and goal at the Southwest 2-yard line.
McGrew scored from one yard out two plays later to cut the lead in half with just 28 seconds to play in the second quarter.
Before their final drive, the Tigers had just 63 yards of offense. Thanks in large part to Ramsey’s 98-yard run, the Wolves had 249 yards of total offense in the first half.
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