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Lack of big plays cost Blue Devils in region opener loss to Charleston

After a win over Winona last week, Water Valley looked to string its first winning streak of the season together Friday.

Unfortunately the Blue Devils’ opponent was Class 3A powerhouse Charleston, and the Tigers were too tough to tame for Water Valley. Charleston defeated Water Valley, 29-14, in both teams’ Region 2-3A opener.

The Blue Devils had their chances to put more points on the board, but missed opportunities were the theme of the night.

“We gave up a few big plays, and we just didn’t make enough big plays offensively,” Water Valley coach Brad Embry said. “There’s some things we need to continue to improve on offensively, but also it had a lot to do with Charleston as well. … We made some plays, and we left a few out there. In a game like that, we drive down to the 20 (yard line) and don’t get any points early in the game. That kind of put us behind.”

The Tigers (5-2, 1-0 Region 2-3A) got on the board first with a 59-yard touchdown run by quarterback Ahmed Alexander, and Charleston claimed an 8-0 lead after a converted two-point attempt early in the first quarter. Alexander was not finished with his legs as he had another touchdown scamper for 45 yards to put the Tigers up 15-0 in the second quarter.

Water Valley (2-5, 0-1) responded when Kirkland Horton ran in from 1 yard out to cut the Tiger lead to 15-7 midway through the second quarter.

Charleston answered with a 15-yard run from receiver Billy Kimble to give the Tigers a 22-7 lead heading into halftime.

Each team scored a touchdown in the second half with Charleston being able to hold off the Blue Devils to claim the win.

Walter Barnes scored on a 1-yard run for Charleston to make it 29-7 before Blue Devil quarterback Ty Varner hit Jayvon Morgan for a touchdown late in the game for the final score.

With Horton getting healthier after suffering a leg injury, he and Varner took turns at quarterback Friday night. Varner finished the night 5 of 20 for 87 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Horton completed 4 of 14 passes for 43 yards.

“(Horton) is healthy again, and it’s something we can add to our team to continue to improve,” Embry said.

Julian Williams led the ground attack with 32 yards on six carries while Horton followed with 31 yards on 10 carries and one score.

The Blue Devils return to action Friday when they host Independence.