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WAR, W.Va. — It's an old clich, often times a non-sports one, that “something slipped through someone's fingers.”
Literally and figuratively that's exactly what happened Friday night to the Big Creek Owls, as they lost four second-half fumbles and a pass interception in a 34-28 loss to Galax.
With those miscues, and the resulting defeat, the Owls (7-2) may have lost a chance at the West Virginia Class A playoffs. Galax finished its season at 3-7.
Big Creek looked to make quick work of the Tide when Cody Johnson took the game's opening kickoff at his own 20 and raced 80 yards untouched for a quick 6-0 lead, only 12 seconds into the game.
Galax tied the score 1:59 later when fullback Jordan Vaughan swept around the right end with a 60-yard TD gallop.
Johnson guided Big Creek to a 14-6 advantage by connecting with a wide-open Roger Hale to cap a six-play, 49-yard drive at the 5:58 mark of the opening quarter. Austin Johnson's run added the conversion.
Galax, running from the spread offense with no huddle, drove to the Owl 15 before turning the ball over on downs on the initial play of the second quarter. Shawn Rowe recovered a Tide fumble at the Galax 47 to disrupt the visitors' next possession.
Austin Johnson scored on a 12-yard run for a 20-6 Big Creek lead at the break.
Galax took the opening kickoff of the second half and ground out 75 yards in 12 plays to close to within six, at 20-14, with 8:00 showing in the third.
Quarterback Tyler Houk, who rushed 27 times for 142 yards on the evening and completed 15 of 29 passes for 209 yards and two scores, hooked up with Terrance Mazon, who made a spectacular leaping catch for an 8-yard touchdown to cap the drive.
Houk's PAT pass to Patrick Anderson cut the deficit to 20-14.
The Owls fumbled the pigskin away at the Maroon Tide 40 midway through the stanza and Houk engineered another time-consuming drive that gave Galax a 21-20 lead two plays into the fourth.
On the twelfth play of that series Jerad Brown caught a 17-yard scoring aerial from Houk, and after Chris Whited kicked the extra point, Galax led 21-20 with 11:55 remaining in the game.
A pass interception by the Tide set up a 1-yard Houk score at the 7:50 mark, pushing the lead to 28-20.
The Owls struck quickly to tie the count, as Devon Johnson raced 37 yards around left end with 5:25 remaining. A fumble on the conversion run attempt was picked up and taken into the end zone by Devon Johnson to knot the score at 28.
Justin Kidwell stopped a Galax drive with a pass theft of his own, and the contest appeared to be headed for overtime when the Owls fumbled for the fourth time in the second half and Jacob Fisher picked the ball up and ran 15 yards for the winning touchdown with 35.9 seconds remaining.
The ball-control offense of the Maroon Tide ran 73 plays in the game, while the Owls only took 35 snaps.
In the third quarter alone, Galax had 26 plays on offense and the Owls only three.
Related second-year Galax head coach Jared Van Acker, “That was one heck of a game. You couldn't ask for any better ball game than that. Big Creek gave everything they had. I can't say enough about my kids. The kids played tough and they played hard. They played four quarters of football.”
“I'm very disappointed. We made too many mistakes. They kept the ball away from us,” analyzed Owl head coach Mike Vallo.
Galax 34, Big Creek W.Va. 28
Galax 6 0 8 20––34
Big Creek, W.Va. 14 6 0 8––28
BC–Johnson 80 kick return (run failed) 11:48
Gal–Vaughan 60 run (kick failed) 9:49
BC–Hale 19 pass from C.Johnson (A.Johnson run) 5:58
BC–A.Johnson 12 run (run failed) 6:44
Gal–Mazon 8 pass from Houk (P.Anderson pass from Houk) 8:00
Gal–Brown 17 pass from Houk (Whited kick) 11:55
Gal–Houk 1 run (Whited kick) 7:50
BC–D.Johnson 37 run (D.Johnson run) 5:25
Gal–Fisher 15 fumble return (kick failed) 0:36
First downs 22 13
Rushes-yards 43-245 26-160
Yards passing 209 125
Comp-Att-Int 15-29-1 6-9-1
Punts-average 1-20.0 0-0
Fumbles-lost 3-1 4-4
Penalties-yards 13-125 11-70
Rushing–Galax, Houk 27-142, Vaughan 11-93. Big Creek, D.Johnson 8-77, A.Johnson 6-66.
Passing–Galax, Houk 15-29-1-209. Big Creek, C.Johnson 6-9-1-125.
Receiving–Galax, Brown 4-71, Martin 4-49. Big Creek, A.Johnson 3-45.