Defense was the story on Friday night in Alexander City as the Valley Rams took on Benjamin Russell in their final tune up before the playoffs begin next week. The Benjamin Russell offense eventually found a rhythm, but the Rams were never able to find theirs in a 14-0 loss.
The Rams (6-4, 5-1) were short-handed without star sophomore K.D. Hutchinson under center. The dual-threat quarterback sat out the regular-season finale with an injury.
The two offenses exchanged punts on their first possessions of the game. Valley linebacker Ryan Valencia ended the second Wildcat possession with an interception, but the Ram offense stalled.
The Valley defense came up with another big stop with a turnover on downs at the Valley 44-yard line. Again, without Hutchinson, the Rams could not move the ball into scoring range, and a fake punt was stopped short of the mark to gain.
Benjamin Russell (5-5, 1-4) put the first dent in the scoreboard with a 1-yard run by senior running back Hezekiah Hunter. The extra point from Campbell Woods put the Wildcats in front 7-0 with 2:07 left in the half.
Ram backup quarterback Jeremy Harmon was intercepted on the ensuing drive, and Benjamin Russell was able to run out the clock and make it to halftime with the one-score advantage.
Valley had a scary moment early in the third quarter when the healthy half of its all-sophomore backfield, B.J. Baker, went down with an injury after a hard hit.
Junior backup tailback and starting cornerback Josh Heath stepped in for Baker, and the Rams were able to drive down into the red zone, but an interception on fourth down ended the Rams best chance of the night at points.
After the Ram defense forced a punt, the Rams turned it over again with a Heath fumble. Taking over at the Valley 6-yard line, Hunter powered into the end zone on the drive’s initial play with 11:32 left in the fourth quarter.
The extra point put the Wildcats up 14-0.
A Ram three-and-out gave the ball back to the Wildcats, but the Valley defense stepped up with a goal-line stand and forced a turnover on downs.
The Valley offense continued to struggle however. A three-and-out followed by a blocked punt gave Benjamin Russell the ball at the one-yard line with 28 seconds left. The Wildcats took the knee rather than add another seven points.
Benjamin Russell season ends with a win as they failed to qualify for the Class 6A playoffs.
The Rams will return to action next Friday when the top seeds in Class 5A, Region 2 host Vigor (4-6, 3-3), the fourth seed in Region 1. Vigor has lost its last four games including a 44-6 loss at Opelika last week.
Benjamin Russell 14, Valley 0
V — 0 0 0 0 — 0
BR — 0 7 0 7 — 14
BR — Hezekiah Hunter 1-yard run (XP good), 2:07
BR — Hunter 6-yard run (XP good), 11:32