By Kyle Parmley
PINSON – The golden left arm of Jackie Matthews was all Pinson Valley needed on Friday night.
The sophomore signal caller completed 17-of-30 passes for a career high 302 yards and four touchdowns, as the Indians (7-2, 4-2) knocked off Shades Valley (2-7, 2-4) in a Class 6A, Region 6 clash at Willie Adams Stadium.
“The offense did a great job tonight,” Pinson Valley head coach Matt Glover said. “They’ve been struggling a little bit. With our running back situation, we knew we were going to have to throw the ball a lot, and that was our game plan.”
Shades Valley came out throwing the ball and never stopped. The Mounties caused the Indians all sorts of problems in the first half, as QB Claude Newell continually completed short and medium range passes to move his team down the field. Newell would finish the night 24-of-42 for 243 yards and a scoring pass to go along with a pair of rushing scores.
Unfortunately for the Mounties, their first two trips inside the red zone yielded no points, allowing Pinson Valley to hang around. At the half, Shades Valley led 14-7, but it could and should have been worse.
“They did a good job scheming us up, so we changed some things for the second half (defensively),” Glover said. “But the bottom line is we just started playing better. We got them to halftime and got back to what we do and made things simple.”
Playing better is an understatement. After allowing a touchdown on Shades Valley’s opening drive in the third quarter, the Indian defense went into lockdown mode for the rest of the evening, forcing four consecutive punts as the offense took control of the game.
The turning point of the game occurred in the ensuing possession following that Mounties’ touchdown in the third quarter to make the score 21-7. The Indians moved into scoring range thanks to a 59-yard catch by Liallen Dailey. Errius Collins took a pass from Matthews and raced towards the goal line, but a collision mere inches from the end zone forced the ball out of his hands and out of the end zone, resulting in a touchback and giving Shades Valley the ball.
The defense held strong, though, and forced a three-and-out. On the punt attempt, sophomore defensive lineman Desmond Scott burst through the line and easily blocked the punt, setting up first-and-goal for the Indians. Dailey would catch a 2-yard pass from Matthews to make the score 21-14 and set Pinson Valley up for the final quarter.
“That was the turning point in the game,” Glover said. “For a 10th-grader, he’s playing really well these past two games. I’m real pleased with the way he’s been playing. He’s causing problems for people.”
The fourth quarter was all Pinson Valley. Matthews hit Collins on a 40-yard touchdown strike on the first play and added a scoring pass to Keimon Norman on the Indians’ next possession. Khymel Chaverst finished the game off with a 3-yard touchdown run, to make the score 35-21.
Along with Dailey, Collins, and Norman, senior receiver Kris Lewis caught a 23-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter. Collins has been the main target all season long, but their quarterback had a feeling he could spread the ball around.
“They don’t ever get any shine because of Errius, but I told them before the game I would get them in the end zone,” Matthews said of his other receivers.
Matthews faced a tough week of practice as he battled injury, and was unsure he would even be able to play in the game, much less put on a career performance. He says he feels better now, and is ready for the stretch run.
With tonight’s results, Pinson Valley will face Minor next week and then travel to Austin for the first round of the playoffs in two weeks.
“They’re a good football team. Everybody has told me if they ever get it together and play like they should, then they are tough to beat. We’ve got our hands full with Minor next week. We’re trying to go 8-2, which would tie the school record for regular season wins,” Glover said.
Shades Valley failed to make the playoffs in David Partridge’s first season as head coach.