If winning ugly were an art, the Volunteers of Clay Central would be the medium’s Picasso. Central overcame a chain of untimely penalties and missed red zone opportunities to somehow defeat Valley 12-6 Thursday at Valley.
There are plenty of ways to illustrate just how ugly the victory was for the Vols. How about the fact that Central running back Terry Heflin outgained the Valley Rams all by himself through the first two quarters, yet the Vols trailed 6-0 at halftime. Or what about the fact that Central was inside the Valley 20-yard line three times through the first two and a half quarters and came away with zero points.
Valley’s only touchdown was set up by a 15-yard pass interference call against Central, and that 15 yards would have matched the Rams’ second-longest play from scrimmage.
But Central – somehow – overcame all of it. The Vols finally broke through to tie the game thanks to a 17-yard touchdown run on a jet sweep to receiver Keisen Lindsey with 9:27 left in the game. But in what was par for the nothing-is-easy course in this game, the PAT was blocked leaving the score at 6-6.
But those six points seemed to give the Vols’ defense a much-needed second wind. They completely dominated the line of scrimmage over the remainder of the fourth quarter, came up with an interception (also by Lindsey) and were so in control of the game that at one point Valley found itself punting from a fourth-and-44 situation.
Central needed every drop of sweat from that defensive effort before Heflin finally broke free for a 57-yard touchdown run with 2:45 left in the game to provide the game-winning points.
Heflin, who had 117 yards on 19 carries in the first half (compared to 95 total yards for Valley), finished with 42 carries for 292 yards and that all-important final carry for six.
Of Central’s called running plays (not including quarterback scrambles or plays wiped out by penalties) Heflin got the ball on all but two of them. One was Lindsey’s touchdown run. The other was a 2-yard carry by Ladamion Boyd.
It was a virtuoso, iron-man performance in a game that Central had to have in order to keep its hopes of a region championship in its own hands. With the win the Vols go to 4-2, but more importantly, they remain unbeaten in region play with two region games remaining. They travel to Sylacauga next week before hosting Beauregard in a game that should decide the region title.