Blue Devils outlast Palmer for No. 2 seed in 2-3A
A quick start along with timely stops by the defense helped the Water Valley football team earn the chance to play at home at least one more time.
The Blue Devils traveled to Marks and defeated M.S. Palmer 21-14, earning the No. 2 seed in Region 2-3A for the MHSAA Class 3A playoffs that begin Friday
Water Valley (6-5, 3-2 2-3A) jumped out to a quick start thanks to a bad Palmer punt and a personal foul penalty on the Dragons gave the Blue Devils the ball at the Pisgah five-yard line.
Quarterback Kirkland Horton capitalized with a one-yard rushing touhdown, giving the Blue Devils an early 7-0 lead.
A little over three minutes later Ty Varner hit Emanuel Judson for a seven-yard touchdown strike to pu Water Valley up 13-0 with a little over a minute left in the opening quarter.
“We had some chances early that we didn’t take advantage of to maybe stretch the lead some,” Water Valley coach Brad Embry said. “Part of that is Marks Palmer. They’re a tough team at home. When you’re athletic and have a home field advantage. They have some really good kids and have a good scheme going offensively and defensively.”
The Dragons did not go away, scoring 21 seconds into the second quarter and converting a two point play to make it a 13-8 Blue Devil lead.
That lead would hold heading into halftime due in part to a stingy Water Valley defense that made stops in key moments of the first half.
On Palmer’s first drive the Blue Devils caused a turnover on downs inside the Water Vally 20-yard line. They follwed that up with a goal-line stand with 40 seconds remaining in the first half.
Horton would lead Water Valley down the field to start the second half, capping their drive with a nine-yard touchdown run. The Water Valley possession ate nearly four minutes off the clock.
Most of the Blue Devils yards came on the ground, rushing for 179 yards compared to the 12 yards gained through the air.
“I just though we matched up better with them that way,” Embry said. “They were so athletic that I thought if we put the ball in the air alot it was too their advantage.”
With 4:46 left on the clock Palmer scored to make it 21-14 after a failed two-point attempt. The Dragons would get the ball again to try and tie but Horton came up with an intercepiton to seal the win.
Water Valley will now host Velma Jackson Friday in the opening round of the playoffs.
Getting to play at home is something Embry feels is the product of his team battling through the rough patches of the season.
“We earned this home playoff (game),” Embry said. “We just need to take advantage of it now.”