VAN — A dominating first quarter slowly slipped away and turned into a loss Friday night for the Van Bulldogs at home against Class A power Tug Valley.
Van jumped out to a 21 point lead, only to see it all slip away and lose to the Tug Valley Panthers, 34-21.
“We beat ourselves,” said Van head coach Steve Price after the game. “We got a big lead and just seemed to quit playing our game.”
Van quarterback Logan Crouse scored the first Bulldog touchdown on a nice run with 4:31 left on the first quarter clock. Van kicked the extra point and took an early 7-0 lead.
Van tightend Cole Price caught a 15-yard pass from Crouse for the second touchdown. After another perfect extra point kick, Van led 14-0.
Just before the end of the first quarter, Van’s star runningback Brady Grant made a great touchdown run with 13 seconds left. The third straight extra point kick gave Van a commanding 21-0 lead.
“We came out and played very hard, tough and physical in the first quarter,” Price said. “But they just out powered us in the second half and we made some big mistakes that really cost us the game.”
Van’s defense, led by Greg Lail, came up with goal line fumble early in the second quarter and Van was driving again toward adding to its 21-0 lead, but a fumble gave the ball right back to the Panthers with 5:39 left in the first half.
With two minutes left in the half, Tug Valley scored two touchdowns. The first came with 1:59 on the clock on a touchdown run and with the two point conversion pass completed, the score was Van 21, Tug Valley 8.
The Panthers scored with one minute on the clock with a 48 yard pass. The two point run attempt failed and Van took a 21-14 lead into the lockerroom at the half.
With 5:05 left in the third quarter, Tug Valley scored on a touchdown run, but could not convert the two point conversion and Van held to a slim 21-20 lead.
Grant made a big kickoff return for the Bulldogs, all the way to the Panthers’ 40-yard line. However, several penalties pushed Van back and forced a punt. The third quarter ended with Van clinging to a one point advantage, 21-20.
At the 11:28 mark of the fourth quarter the Tug Valley Panthers took its first lead of the game following a 7-yard touchdown run. The two-point conversion was no good and the Panthers now led for the first time, 26-21.
Penalties and turnovers haunted the Bulldogs in the fourth quarter.
“We just could not get any offense going in the last seven minutes of the game,” Price said. “We just didn’t block well enough on offense.”
With four minutes left, Tug Valley put the nail in the coffin with a big touchdown run and a two point conversion pass play for a 34-21 score, which ended up as the final score.
“We showed we could play with them, but we just need to clean up the mistakes and play all four quarters the way we played the first one,” Price said.
To view a photo gallery of pictures of the game, visit www.photographybykay.shootproof.com/van
Fred Pace is an editor for Civitas Media. He can be reached at 304-369-1165, ext. 1661, in Madison; at 304-752-6950, ext. 1729 in Logan; by email at email@example.com or @fcpace62 on Twitter.