By Leigh Ann Rutledge
After saying he was excited for his first win, Conotton Valley Coach Brant Gardner was at a loss for words.
Conotton Valley defeated the Chalker Wildcats 20-7 for their first victory of the season and added a celebratory factor to the homecoming festivities.
After the Rockets led 6-0 at halftime, Chalker scored with a little over five minutes left in the third quarter. With the extra point, they took over the lead 7-6. However, two interceptions in the second half helped preserve the Rocket victory.
Following the Chalker score, Rocket quarterback Mikey Cottis threw an interception giving Chalker the ball on the 35-yard line. Chalker was heading for the end zone when a botched snap resulted in quarterback Trystan Mollohan throwing a pass that was picked off by Rocket senior Jake White.
The Rockets began the series on their own 23-yard line. Gaining ground, the third quarter ended with a Rockets first down on the 11-yard line. Quarterback Matt Caldwell took the ball into the end zone for a touchdown and carried it in for the two-point conversion. Nine seconds into the fourth quarter, the Rockets were leading 14-7. With players getting anxious, both teams had four-and-outs and penalties for delay of game, illegal formation and off sides. Chalker was marching down the field when a bobbled snap and an incomplete pass left them with a third-and-12 on the 22 with 3:17 left on the clock. Mollohan threw an incomplete pass bringing up fourth down.
Mollohan’s pass to the end zone was intercepted by Caldwell, who was three yards deep in the end zone. He ran 103 yards to the end zone. A sea of green roared from the stands. The PAT was no good but the Rockets were up 20-7 with 2:54 left to play.
Chalker started the next drive on their own 36. Mollohan threw an incomplete pass, followed by a sack by Rocket Joey Schaar. As excitement was rising on the Rocket sideline, Coach Gardner told his D-line, “Hold the line one more time,” which they did.
“The boys played their hearts out tonight,” Gardner said. “I couldn’t ask for any more out of this team. I couldn’t be more proud.”
When the game began, both teams moved the ball but neither managed to score. Chalker had a fake punt on a fourth-and-five that gained them six yards for a first down, but three plays later punted the ball away to the Rockets, who moved the ball four yards to end the first quarter.
The second quarter found Conotton punting. Cottis a freshman, had to drop to a knee to catch the snap, which downed the ball and Chalker took over on the Conotton 30. Both teams moved the ball until Caldwell intercepted Mollohan’s pass in the end zone and returned it to their own five-yard line. On the next play, Cottis threw a pass to Caldwell for a 95-yard touchdown reception. The two-point conversion was no good giving the Rockets a 6-0 lead with 1:19 left in the first half.
“They played every down and gave their all. We got off to a slow start this season but we are starting to gel,” Gardner continued. “I can’t wait to see what the rest of the season brings.”
Conotton Valley travels to Bridgeport Friday at 7 p.m. to take on the Bulldogs.