• 63°

Water Valley bounces back with region-opening win over Byhalia

It had been nearly two years since Water Valley suffered a multi-game losing streak, but the defending Class 3A champions were staring at back-to-back losses when they welcomed Byhalia to Blue Devil Stadium on Friday.

The Blue Devils introduced the Region 2-3A newcomers with a 24-14 win in both teams’ region opener and avoided their first three-game skid since Sept. 16, 2016.

“That’s a great win for us,” Water Valley head coach Brad Embry said. “These guys, they do it right. We had a couple tough weeks, but we never quit. We kept the faith. We kept fighting and prepping and there’s the proof right there.”

It was a slow start for both teams. Water Valley (4-2, 1-0 2-3A) amassed only 42 total yards in the first half, but did score a touchdown off a seven-yard run by Dre McCray early in the second quarter. The Blue Devils lone touchdown of the first two quarters was set up by a good punt return that put them inside the Indians’ 10 yard-line.

Byhalia (4-3, 0-1) responded the following drive with a six-yard touchdown run by quarterback DeQuan Moore, but the Indians failed the convert the point-after try and trailed 7-6 at halftime.

The fireworks kicked off in the second half with a total of 25 points scored the final 24 minutes.

After forcing Byhalia to punt on the second half’s opening drive, Water Valley chewed up over seven minutes of clock on a 12-play, 47-yard scoring drive. McCray picked up his second touchdown of the evening with a four-yard run. Every play on the drive was on the ground.

“At halftime we made a few adjustments and did some things technically better,” Embry said. “We didn’t change a lot of stuff. Just, technically, we were better offensively and defensively.”

After Byhalia tied the game at 14-all with just under 10 minutes remaining, the Blue Devils retook the lead off a 23-yard run by Martavius Rockette.

On the ensuing drive, Byhalia had a manageable third down near midfield that was turned into a 4 & 19 after a botched snap. The Indians were forced to punt it away.

Water Valley got some much-needed insurance when kicker Jon Surrette connected on a 30-yard field goal try with two minutes remaining.

“He’s a really talented kid,” Embry said of Surrette. “That’s a mental thing. He can hit those all day, but that’s in a tough situation.”

The Blue Devils cannot unpack their bags for too long coming off a two-game road trip. They travel to Independence next week.