ELIZABETH -Four turnovers, including one on a potential game-winning drive late in the fourth quarter, put a crimp in Wirt County's plans during its season-opener Friday night against Valley (Fayette).
Valley quarterback Raeshawn Breckenridge threw for 206 yards on just five completions and sparked the Greyhounds' 14-8 victory.
The decisive score occurred with 11:44 remaining in the fourth quarter. With game tied at 8 and Valley facing third-and-9 from its own 18-yard line, Breckenridge connected with Druw Bowen on a simple screen pass. Wirt defensive back Wes Valentine tripped up Bowen at the Tigers' 20, but Bowen kept his footing and made his way into the end zone for the 14-8 lead.
Wirt converted just one first down while punting on its next two possessions. After holding off Valley in the red zone with under two minutes left in regulation, the Tigers took possession one last time at their own 26.
Consecutive completions from quarterback Damian Rhodes to receiver Jake Linville moved the ball into Valley territory at the 26. But on the very next play, Valley registered its only sack of the contest by Steve Mitchell and the ball was jarred loose. Teammate John Riddle pounded on the fumble.
With no timeouts remaining in Wirt's corner, all Valley had to do was kneel the ball for the final 41 seconds.
Rhodes led all rushers with 85 yards on 16 carries, while Valley's Keyshawn Payne gained a team-high 82 yards on 11 attempts.
Wirt actually won the battle of the sacks with seven as opposed to Valley's one. Even though Breckenridge was harassed in the backfield during the first half, the Tiger offense couldn't generate any points.
In the first half, Wirt entered the red zone on two separate occasions but came up empty. One series resulted in a mishandled snap on a 23-yard field goal attempt. The second instance ended with two straight incompletions and a turnover on downs at the Valley 17.
Valley's only score before intermission was keyed by a 37-yard completion from Breckenridge to Dante Wilkerson with only 37 seconds showing on the clock. On the very next play, Breckenridge converted the bootleg for an 8-yard touchdown run. On the two-point conversion, Payne received the handoff then on the halfback pass found Jaden Bess wide open for the catch.
Wirt's only touchdown tied the game at 8 with 43 seconds left in the third quarter. The series lasted more than four minutes, and covered 81 yards. During the drive, Wirt faced third-and-7 from its own 33 when Rhodes hit Justin Joy in the flat for a 37-yard completion.
Four plays later on second-and-12 from the Valley 15, Rhodes kept the snap and tiptoed down the sidelines for the touchdown. On the two-point conversion, Linville hauled in a pass from Rhodes for the 8-8 tie.