FAYETTEVILLE — With a combined eight turnovers, it couldn’t be labeled an instant classic.

But combatants in Friday’s Fayetteville-Valley matchup at Fletcher Arritt Memorial Stadium knew afterwards they’d been involved in a doozy which they’ll talk about long after their playing days end.

In a game played in a driving rain all night, Class A No. 13 Fayetteville overcame a stubborn opponent to finally get in the driver’s seat early in the third period. After forcing a Valley three-and-out to start the second half, Fayetteville’s Drew Weis returned the ensuing punt 19 yards to give the Pirates a short field at the Valley 19-yard line. On the very next play, Weis (21 carries for 122 yards) scored his second touchdown of the night, staking the hosts to a 20-12 margin which they were able to maintain to game’s end.

As both squads traded the ball back-and-forth on turnovers for most of the second half, the Pirates held on for the 20-12 win, their fourth in five attempts.

“Valley played a whale of a game,” said Fayetteville coach Frank Spangler. “Give them credit; they kept fighting and took advantage of some opportunities.

“They kept hanging in there, and our kids played hard.”

After Weis’ go-ahead score, the final 10 possessions included five turnovers, three by Fayetteville and two by Valley.

“We’ve got to start limiting our turnovers,” lamented Spangler.

As Valley sought to regain the lead in the waning minutes, the Pirates shut down the Valley running tandem of Petey Foster and Marcus White, who had combined to do a majority of the visitors’ damage in the first half, and forced Valley to try to win via the passing game in slippery conditions.

Valley’s final gasp came after the Greyhounds forced a Fayetteville punt with 3:00 left. After four straight incompletions, the Greyhounds turned the ball over on downs with 2:27 left, and Fayetteville played out the string.

“We knew if we could get them into a three-and-out early in the second half and get a quick score, we’d be in better shape,” said Spangler. “We moved more people up in the gaps (on defense) and played the run more.

“Coach (Rick) Helmick (defensive coordinator) did a good job of adjusting our defense.”

“They just started bringing their linebackers and a safety, and we didn’t pick them up,” said Valley coach Benny Hopkins. “We were running for our lives back there.”

“Our kids were ready to play,” Hopkins added. “I’m proud of our kids; they played hard.”

Fayetteville got a huge boost as the first half wound down. Trailing 12-7, the Pirates’ MichaelAngelo Hernandez raced 50 yards to paydirt on a third-and-4 situation. That crucial score, which occurred at the 1:07 mark, was preceded by an interception of Jack Simms by Fayetteville’s Caleb O’Neal, a pass theft that killed a Valley drive that had advanced to the FHS 33.

After Weis staked the Pirates to a 6-0 lead on a 4-yard run late in the first period — capping a 10-play, 59-yard drive that was set up by teammate Elijah Lewis’ fumble recovery — the Greyhounds controlled the rest of the half.

First, Foster tore through the right side of the Fayetteville defense for a 42-yard TD jaunt, capping a three-play, 72-yard drive and pulling the Greyhounds to within 7-6. Then, Valley took advantage of Simms’ recovery of a Weis fumble at the Valley 1, driving 99 yards and scoring on a 13-yard run by Foster with 8:51 left in the half. Key plays in that march included a 28-yarder by Foster on a pitch out of the end zone, a Simms-to-Robert Null 13-yard pass, and a Fayetteville penalty that gave the ‘Hounds a first-and-10 at the hosts’ 13.

For Valley, Foster finished with 115 yards, with all but 6 coming in the first two quarters. White added 99 yards on the ground.

“When you have breakdowns and put it down there (on the ground), you’re not going to beat a good team like Fayetteville,” Hopkins said.

Fayetteville now sets its sights on the Class A No. 1 Man Hillbillies Friday at Fletcher Arritt Memorial Stadium. Valley (2-2) tries to get back on track at home Friday against Meadow Bridge.

For a review of other games, see Thursday’s Tribune.

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