SPORTS HEADLINES

Football: Valley View, Epperson throttle Dragons

By Reece Waddell | Published Saturday, November 18, 2017
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Nowhere to Go

NOWHERE TO GO – Chico’s Nico Starnes tries to get away from a Valley View defender during the Dragons’ loss Thursday. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

On Chico’s first play from scrimmage Thursday night, senior quarterback Jerod Blanks darted down the field for a 36-yard gain, putting the Dragons in prime position to get on the board first.

With the opportunity to jump out to an early lead against a Valley View team that entered the game as 38-point favorites, Chico marched all the way to the Eagle nine-yard line. Knocking on the door, Blanks rolled out to his left and attempted to throw across his body and paid for it.

Valley View’s Clint Epperson intercepted the pass, returning it 91 yards for a touchdown to wake the Eagles up. It was the first of Epperson’s three first-half interceptions, leading Valley View to a 69-19 blowout of Chico in the 2A Division I bi-district game at Krum’s Bobcat Stadium.

“We came out strong and marched right down the field,” said Chico coach Lane Wilson. “Unfortunately, we turned the ball over and they returned it for a touchdown. We kind of got behind the eight ball there.”

Epperson had a huge night for Valley View, recording two pick-six’s in the first half to go along with two rushing touchdowns. On the final play of the second quarter, Epperson blew up a screen pass before it had time to develop, taking it to the house yet again. The play gave the Eagles a 55-7 halftime advantage.

“He’s just incredibly fast,” Wilson said of Epperson. “He’s a big, strong kid. He’s going to give a lot of people trouble. [But we] came out in the second half and responded really well.”

Chico gave up just 14 points in the second half, with Valley View’s final touchdown coming with less than two minutes remaining.

Following Epperson’s interception in the first quarter, the Eagles scored 20 unanswered points before the Dragons were able to get on the board courtesy of a 61-yard shuttle pass from Blanks to Nico Starnes. This cut the Valley View lead to 20-7.

But Chico would never get any closer.

The Eagles scored 42 consecutive points to build an insurmountable lead, and at one point led the Dragons by as much as 55 points.

“Obviously we were down by [48] or whatever at the half, and it’s really hard to come back from that,” Blanks said. “I was pleased with the second half. I wouldn’t trade this team for [anything].”

Valley View junior quarterback Brady Jackson accounted for five touchdowns in the Eagles’ victory. With the win, Valley View advances to the area round and will play the winner of Crawford and Riesel.

This is the second consecutive year Chico has lost to Valley View in the bi-district round.

“The kids played really hard for four quarters,” Wilson said. “All year long they’ve played incredibly hard for four quarters, and I’m very proud of them for that.”

Giving Chase

GIVING CHASE – Chico’s Jerod Blanks runs after a Valley View runner during the Dragons’ defeat Thursday. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

VALLEY VIEW 69, CHICO 19

Valley View … 14 … 41 … 7 … 7 … – … 69
Chico … 0 … 7 … 0 … 12 … – … 19

FIRST QUARTER

Valley View – 7:49, Clint Epperson 91 interception return, Cale Kassen kick
Valley View – 1:31, Brady Jackson 19 pass to Cale Kassen, Kassen kick

SECOND QUARTER

Valley View – 10:54, Clint Epperson 34 run, kick failed
Chico – 9:56, Jerod Blanks 61 pass to Nico Starnes, Logan Ellis kick
Valley View – 8:32, Clint Epperson 6 run, Kassen kick
Valley View – 6:23, Brady Jackson 5 run, Kassen kick
Valley View – 4:36, Brady Jackson 51 run, Kassen kick
Valley View – 0:16, Brady Jackson 9 pass to #40 for touchdown, Kassen kick
Valley View – 0:00, Clint Epperson interception return, Kassen kick

THIRD QUARTER

Valley View – 1:38, Brady Jackson 12 pass to Taylor Doughty, Kassen kick

FOURTH QUARTER

Chico – 5:38, Jerod Blanks 5 run, run failed
Valley View – 1:35, Cale Kassen 7 pass to Christian McMurray, Kassen kick
Chico – 0:00, Jerod Blanks 20 pass to Billy Morgan, run failed

VALLEY VIEW … CHICO

First Downs … 22 … 20
Rushing Yards … 290 … 183
Passing Yards … 133 … 134
Total Yards … 423 … 317
Comp-Att-Int … 9-16-1 … 7-16-4
Punts-Average … 0-0 … 4-32.5
Fumbles-Lost … 0-0 … 0-0
Penalties-Yards … 2-30 … 4-30

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING: Valley View, Clint Epperson 12-174. Chico, Nico Starnes 16-124.

PASSING: Valley View, Brady Jackson 9-16-1-133. Chico, Jerod Blanks 7-16-4-134.

RECEIVING: Valley View, #40 5-64. Chico, Kolton Forbus 3-101.

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