ONA, W.Va. — Spring Valley’s defense continued its early season dominance as the Class AAA No. 3 Timberwolves slowed a strong Cabell Midland offense throughout the Timberwolves’ 35-7 road win Friday night.
The victory moved the Timberwolves to 3-0 on the season, while the fifth-ranked Knights fell to 2-1 overall.
“We controlled the line of scrimmage,” Spring Valley coach Brad Dingess said. “That front four we have was our front four last year, so we felt pretty good coming in.”
After the opening kickoff was delayed slightly more than an hour due to lightning, the Timberwolves got an interception from Graeson Malashevich that helped set up a 3-yard touchdown run from Isaac Howard with 6:50 left in the first quarter. Zane Porter knocked home the point-after kick to make it 7-0.
Cabell Midland quarterback Jayce Gould was intercepted again on the Knights’ second series, this time by Tanner Ferguson, who set Spring Valley up at midfield. However, the Timberwolves were unable to capitalize and went three-and-out.
Spring Valley quarterback Nate Ellis was picked off by Griffin Adkins late in the first quarter with the Timberwolves deep in Knights’ territory, which prevented them from adding to their early lead.
Each team punted twice in the second quarter, before the Knights got on the scoreboard when Gould connected with Carlito Carter for an 88-yard touchdown pass 1:57 before halftime. Cameron Grobe’s PAT tied the game at 7, but it wouldn’t remain knotted for long.
Spring Valley answered quickly to regain the lead, with Will Adkins throwing a 43-yard TD pass to Ellis 42 seconds before halftime. The point-after try was blocked, leaving the Timberwolves with a 13-7 lead at the break.
“We had some opportunities early with some turnovers and we didn’t capitalize on them,” Dingess said. “We just made that one mistake on defense, but I thought we did a good job of changing it up a little bit. They did a great job of defending us in our tight stuff that we’re normally pretty good at. They always defend us really well.
“We opened it up a little bit. Will came in there off the bench and threw a strike to Nate.”
The touchdown just before halftime turned the momentum completely in the Timberwolves’ favor. Spring Valley started the second half with a seven play drive that covered 58 yards and was capped by Owen Chafin’s 17-yard touchdown run. Malashevich ran in the two-point conversion to up his team’s lead to 21-7 at the 9:11 mark of the third quarter.
“They’re a good defense and they do a good job,” Cabell Midland coach Luke Salmons said. “We didn’t play well and we had three interceptions. We have to get better to get where we want to be.”
Cabell Midland was held without a first down on both of its possessions in the third quarter and the Timberwolves took a three touchdown lead early in the fourth. That came courtesy of a 41-yard pass thrown by Malashevich to Ellis with 11:18 remaining.
“He does everything for us and I don’t think he came out for one play except for when his helmet came off,” Dingess said of Malashevich. “He’s flying under the radar, but he’s one of the best football players I’ve ever coached pound for pound.”
Parker Elmore picked off Gould on the ensuing series and Howard capped off the scoring with a 10-yard TD run with 3:20 remaining.
Ivan Vaughn, who rushed for six touchdowns in Cabell Midland’s week 2 win at Parkersburg, was held in check by a Spring Valley defense that has allowed 18 points in three games.
“I don’t know how many yards Vaughn had, but he was almost a non factor in this ball game. That says something,” Dingess said. “We’re playing really well on defense right now. We can’t get satisfied with it. We have to keep moving on and getting better and better, but that was pretty good tonight.”