By Steve Keenan
For The Register-Herald
A rather mild fall night greeted the Valley High homecoming crowd Friday at WVU Tech’s Martin Field.
A dose of Winter was thrown in the mix, too.
Senior tailback Cody Winter rushed for 182 yards and two touchdowns and snared a 46-yard scoring pass from Raeshawn Breckenridge — with all three TDs occurring in the first half — to power the Class A No. 3 Greyhounds to a 30-12 defeat of No. 22 Pendleton County, Valley’s sixth win in as many tries.
After Valley forced a Pendleton punt on the opening series, Winter got the Greyhounds off to a scintillating start with a 62-yard touchdown gallop on their first play from scrimmage. Later in the same period, he reached paydirt on a 4-yard run, capping an eight-play, 81-yard drive whose key play was a 52-yard pass from Breckenridge to Dante Wilkerson which created a first-and-goal at the Pendleton 8.
Winter said he wasn’t really surprised with his breakaway score to start the game. Neither was his coach, Benny Hopkins.
“We had a couple of big plays, and (it’s good) to start the game like that,” Hopkins said. “He (Cody) runs hard, and (his speed) is deceptive. And he can catch the ball, too.
“We’ve got some kids banged up. It’s good to win.”
Winter also reached the end zone on the long pass play from Breckenridge right before the intermission. The duo had teamed up on a 28-yard pass that put the ’Hounds in scoring position, but the gain was negated by a holding call. Then, Winter cut across the middle and snagged the next Breckenridge aerial and broke to the Pendleton sideline for the score and an 18-0 Valley cushion.
“(My goal) is to put my team in the best position to score,” said Winter. “I just tried to make something happen after that penalty.”
Winter admitted the Greyhound defense was challenged, especially in the second half when Pendleton cut the deficit to two touchdowns and had the opportunity to get within a touchdown.
“We had to stop ’em to keep them from getting more confidence.”
After Keyshawn Payne’s 12-yard touchdown put Valley up 24-6 with 3:31 left in the third, the visitors trimmed the deficit to 24-12 on a 16-yard scoring run by Logan Raines (22 carries, 96 yards) with 43.6 seconds left in the third.
On their next drive following an unsuccessful fake punt play by Valley, the Wildcats advanced to the Valley 18 before a holding penalty moved the ball back, then Valley defender Henry Barron picked off a Daniel Hevener pass to thwart the scoring threat.
Barron’s pick eventually resulted in Valley’s final score, an 8-yard pass from Matt Whiteside to Wilkerson with 5:20 remaining. Winter ripped off a 52-yard gain to initiate that scoring march.
The Wildcats used a 12-play possession to advance to the VHS 18 in the waning minutes, but Valley’s Casey Stewart picked off a Hevener pass to halt that threat.
“We had trouble tackling,” Hopkins said. “That kid (Raines) is a pretty good player. They’ve got a pretty good ball club.”
While Winter enjoyed a solid night for the most part, he did shank a 4-yard punt in the second quarter that gave the Wildcats prime position at the Valley 41. “My quarterback backed into me, and I tried to get it off real fast,” he said with a slight grimace.
The Valley defense stiffened, though, and took the ball on downs after Pendleton advanced to a fourth-and-3 situation on the Valley 9 but was unsuccessful in its attempt to get another set of downs.
The ’Hounds then proceeded on the drive that ended with Winter’s scoring catch from Breckenridge, who had a key 20-yard scramble earlier in the possession.
Valley (6-0) plays at Parkersburg Catholic at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 13.
“We just have to keep confidence for our next games,” Winter said.
Pendleton (3-4) is idle this coming weekend before facing Tucker County on Oct. 19.
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Valley 30, Pendleton County 12
V (6-0) 12 6 6 6 — 30
PC (3-4) 0 0 12 0 — 12
V: Cody Winter 62 run (pass fail), 9:13, 6-0
V: Winter 4 run (run fail) 2:29, 12-0
V: Winter 46 pass from Raeshawn Breckenridge (run fail), 0:09.2, 18-0
PC: Daniel Hevener 1 run (pass fail), 5:18, 18-6
V: Keyshawn Payne 12 run (run fail), 3:31, 24-6
PC: Logan Raines 16 run (pass fail), 0:44, 24-12
V: Dante Wilkerson 8 pass from Matt Whiteside (run fail), 5:20, 30-12
RUSHING — PC: Raines 22-96-1, Hevener 13-23-1. V: Winter 19-182-2, Darius Hutchinson 6-23, Breckenridge 3-16, Payne 4-29-1, Whiteside 5-(-2), Henry Barron 1-17.
PASSING — PC: Hevener 11-21-2-125-0. V: Whiteside 2-5-0-17-1, Breckenridge 3-5-0-105-1.
RECEIVING — PC: Levi Hubbard 5-73, Ben Hill 1-16, Luke Yokum 4-24, Justin Propst 1-12. V: Myles White 2-16-0, Wilkerson 2-60-1, Winter 1-46-1.
TURNOVERS — PC: Tyler Simon (FR). V: Barron (INT), Casey Stewart (INT).