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Bahn’s big day leads Warriors to third straight, 30-16

BY AUSTIN ALEXANDER
STAR CORRESPONDENT
MOUNTAIN CITY – The Happy Valley Warriors (4-2) made the trip up the way to Mountain City on Friday looking to keep rolling. They knew it would be no easy task to down the Longhorns of Johnson County (3-4) who were also looking for some late-season momentum.

What Happy Valley found was a winning recipe and boy was it sweet as they won 30-16.

A wild, bouncing opening kickoff put the Longhorns deep in their own territory to start the game. Taking their first snap from scrimmage at their own two, Cory Neely of Johnson County couldn’t escape the outstretched arms of Cayden Campbell who knocked the running back down in his own end zone for an opening safety.

Receiving the ensuing free kick, Happy Valley got to work on the ground running their workhorse Matthew Bahn early and often. After taking three straight shots on the ground, quarterback Eli Ayers wound up and tossed a ball deep that inadvertently found a Longhorn who took it 72 yards the other way for the score.

The Warriors immediately got the opportunity to strike back though and that’s exactly what they did.

After two disappointing plays to start the drive, Ayers would atone for his earlier mistake finding Bahn on a monster 66-yard completion for a score that would give Happy Valley the 10-6 lead.

A stout Happy Valley defense would hold Johnson County for a three and out and get back to the action on offense.

Three consecutive runs from the Warriors started the drive off well, but a 47-yard run from Bahn put the Valley in the perfect position to find pay dirt.

The wait wasn’t long as two plays later, Ayers would sneak in the end zone from one yard out giving the visitors the 16-6 advantage.

A big stop from the Happy Valley defense meant that another three and out was in order for a Longhorn team that couldn’t find the spark on offense.

With decent field position, the Warriors went back to the ground attack moving the ball for a first down before three straight passes stalled out their drive and for the first time in the game, Happy Valley punted.

The ensuing possession saw the Longhorns get going on the ground and finding the most success on offense that they had to this point. But yet again the Warrior defense wasn’t messing around in the first half and forced another punt.

A few back and forth possessions from the two teams slowed the game down significantly as neither team couldn’t find much success on the offense. Happy Valley grabbed two picks during this time, one from Andrew Little and another from Logan Groom.

Following Groom’s interception, the Happy Valley offense used their fantastic field position to find the end zone just before the half with an Andrew Little touchdown.

Heading into the half, the Warriors lead 22-6.

Coming out of the half, the Longhorns looked rejuvenated forcing a quick three and out of their own from the Warriors and then beginning a long drive of their own. Johnson County looked poised to score until Gabe Nickles stepped in front of a pass for another Warrior interception.

The interception took place at the Happy Valley two-yard line meaning they had little room for error. The Longhorns exploited this knocking Bahn down in his own end zone for the two-point safety making the score 22-8.

The ensuing possession from the Longhorns looked more reminiscent of the first half as they were completely stifled by the Warrior defense. They would turn the ball over on downs.

Back on offense, the channel was tuned back to the Bahn show and this week’s episode was pretty darn good. Bahn would smash the Longhorn defense on four straight runs finding money on the last with a 26-yard effort.

Leading 30-8, Happy Valley knew a few more good possessions on each side of the ball would secure the game.

Johnson County had other plans putting together their best drive of the game and finding a much-needed score from Dalton Brown. The point after conversion was good.

The rest of the fourth quarter was a running monsoon from the Warriors who tried to bleed the clock down as much as they could. They would be successful allowing Johnson County only one more possession in which they couldn’t find the end zone.

The Warriors would close it out with Bahn and Landon Babb on the ground to find the win, 30-16.

A tough battle from both teams, this Warrior defense looks for real and with a three-game winning streak in tow, they will certainly be a menacing foe for any upcoming opponents.

The win also comes with a big thanks to Bahn who finished with an unofficial 348 all-purpose yards giving the Warriors what they needed offensively.

Next up for Happy Valley is a conference showdown with Sullivan North at home. That kickoff will be at 7:30 pm.