(Story by Luke Wiggs)
MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — The second playoff win in Spring Mills program history was a hard earned 20-17 victory over Spring Valley.
The visiting No. 10 Timberwolves (6-5) struck first through the air when Liam Mcguire found Cole Ferguson for an 85-yard touchdown reception in the dying seconds of the first quarter.
Spring Valley then went up by two scores with a Makiath Riddle 23 yard field goal.
“With this team, we’ve faced so much adversity.” said Spring Mills interim head coach Marcus Law. “Our starting left tackle was out, starting running back was out and the guys just find ways to make things happen. Being down 10-0, most people would panic but these guys found a way.”
No. 7 Spring Mills (9-2) found the scoreboard finally at the 3:12 mark of the second quarter with junior quarterback Max Anderson linking up with his brother Xavier for a 21 yard touchdown.
Spring Valley rolled the dice on the following possession, failing to convert a fake punt and giving the ball back to the Cardinals. On the very next play the Anderson-to-Anderson connection paid dividends, this time from 36 yards away to give the Redbirds their first lead at 14-10, which they carried into the half.
The Timberwolves attempted to get on the scoreboard first in the second half but a 42-yard Riddle field goal attempt was blocked by Spring Mills with 5:12 in the third.
Anderson threw his third touchdown of the game on the decisive score to Zach Bender, a 56-yard reception with 4 minutes left in the third.
“Everyone knows we’re run first, but we talked a lot about taking what they would give us,” Law said with a chuckle about his quarterback who completed 15 of his 23 pass attempts. “We worked all summer with this receiving core knowing we needed to get better. We knew we needed to pass in the playoffs to advance.”
Spring Valley battled back in the fourth scoring for a final time early in the quarter as Jamison Smith found Ferguson again through the air for a 29 yard score.
Spring Valley forced a Spring Mills punt and a Jaylen Abercrombie punt return set up the Timberwolves at the Cardinal 24-yard line, down three, with 7:39 left.
Three costly first down denying penalties led to the Spring Valley drive stalling as they turned the ball over for the fifth time in the loss.
“This community has been longing for that first home playoff victory.” Law said. “Our student section was great, our admin staff, that’s what it’s all about.”
Spring Mills travels to take on No. 2 Huntington in the quarterfinals next weekend.