EARLY — Throckmorton coach Mike Reed said the key players for his team's shocking 62-16 win over the Water Valley Wildcats didn't score a single touchdown Saturday night.
"I think our backups and scout team were our most valuable players this week," Reed said after his defending Six-Man Division I state champions held Water Valley's vaunted passing game in check. "It's tough to simulate what a team like Water Valley does in practice during the week.
"To play against our defense all season during practice and still be motivated to emulate some of the best players in the state, that says a lot about those guys. Our defensive starters were coming off the field saying, 'Coach they're doing just what you said they would.' Those scout team guys got us prepared."
The Greyhounds (10-1) advanced to play Rankin in next week's Six-Man Division I state quarterfinals.
No. 4 Throckmorton and No. 3 Water Valley was billed as a tossup before kickoff. Instead, the Greyhounds won by the 45-point rule after Bryson Oliver's 36-yard touchdown pass to Rawlin Morrell and Nathan Riley's extra-point kick with 1:59 left in the third quarter.
Water Valley quarterback Kellan Kirkland finished with 254 yards passing, but he threw 20 incompletions and was chased all night by Throckmorton defenders Gary Farquhar and Levi Taylor.
"We really emphasized getting pressure on him," Taylor said of Kirkland, who threw just one scoring pass to Colt Riley when the Greyhounds already led 46-8. "We thought if we could get some pressure on him, we could force some bad passes and some turnovers. We didn't get any interceptions, but they dropped a few passes and it (the pressure) worked to our advantage."
Taylor, meanwhile, led Throckmorton's efficient offense with 167 yards rushing and touchdowns of 47, 29, 15 and 16 yards. He also threw into double coverage on a halfback pass, but Nathan Riley wrestled the ball from two Water Valley defenders and turned the play into a 52-yard touchdown pass that extended the Greyhounds' lead to 54-16 in the third quarter.
Oliver finished 5-of-10 passing for 139 yards and two touchdown as the Greyhounds finished without a turnover for the eighth consecutive game.
"We knew Water Valley was good, but we thought that if we could do what we do, we could get it done," said Taylor, who also caught two passes for 34 yards. "They double-teamed Gary (Farquhar, the Greyhounds' leading receiver) so we were able to run the ball easier than we expected."
Water Valley receivers Colt Riley, Sterling Marschall and Connor Coley combined to make 11 catches for 162 yards, but the Wildcats were limited to a minus-11 yards rushing.
Throckmorton took control by getting defensive stops on Water Valley's final four possessions of the first half. Included during that stretch was a safety when Kirkland fumbled a pitch-back out of the end zone.
After completing seven of his first 13 pass attempts for 125 yards, Kirkland and teammate Brock Demere combined to throw six consecutive incompletions during the second quarter when the Greyhounds blew open the game.
After Water Valley scored on Cade Latham's 1-yard run to get within 14-8 in the final minute of the first quarter, Throckmorton scored 32 consecutive points, including the safety. Taylor did most of the damage, scoring three times. Morrell added a 10-yard touchdown run during the Greyhounds' 32-point second quarter that produced a 46-8 Throckmorton lead at the half.
"If I made a play, they made a play. They just kept making plays," Kirkland said of Throckmorton's defense. "They played great all around the ball."
Taylor also opened the scoring with a 47-yard run on the second play from scrimmage by sweeping his left end.
The Wildcats moved the ball on their first two possessions of the night, but missed a field goal and fumbled at the Greyhounds' 1-yard line.
"We made some early mistakes and they capitalized on them," Wildcats coach John York said. "They had some early stops that were crucial. You can't afford to make mistakes when you play a team of their caliber. All those things, not finishing drives and fumbling at the 1, add up."
Reed said, "I've been around long enough to know that could have been us on the other side tonight. When you have two explosive offenses like these, and you have a turnover or two, it could have easily happened to the either team.
"We just tried to harass him (Kirkland) all night with our two best players (Farquhar and Taylor) and not let him get comfortable back there."
Throckmorton 62, Water Valley 16
Throckmorton 14 32 16 x — 62
Water Valley 8 0 8 x — 16
THR — Levi Taylor 47 run (kick failed), 9:12
THR — Rawlin Morrell 57 pass from Bryson Oliver (Nathan Riley kick), 6:21
WV — Cade Latham 1 run (Brock Demere kick), 0:56
THR — Taylor 29 run (Riley kick), 8:12
THR — Taylor 15 run (kick blocked), 6:36
THR — safety. Water Valley QB Kellan Kirkland fumbles pitch-back out of end zone, 5:12
THR — Morrell 10 run (Riley kick), 2:43
THR — Taylor 16 run (Riley kick), 0:30
WV — Colt Riley 8 pass from Kellan Kirkland (Demere kick), 7:47
THR — Riley 52 pass from Taylor (Riley kick), 6:17
THR — Morrell 36 pass from Oliver (Riley kick), 1:59
First Downs 13 14
Rushes-Yards 23-213 13-(-11)
Passing 191 254
Comp-Att-Int 6-11-0 16-37-0
Punts 1-39 0-0
Fumbles-Lost 1-0 3-2
Penalties-Yards 2-20 4-43
RUSHING — Throckmorton — Levi Taylor 14-167, Rawlin Morrell 4-34, Trinity Haggard 4-13, Bryson Oliver 1-(-1). Water Valley — Cade Latham 3-13, Sterling Marschall 4-4, Kellan Kirkland 5-(-6), Team 1-(-22).
PASSING — Throckmorton, Oliver 5-10-0—139, Taylor 1-1-0—52. Water Valley, Kirkland 16-36-0—254, Brock Demere 0-1-0—0.
RECEIVING — Throckmorton, Morrell 2-93, Taylor 2-34, Gary Farquhar 1-12, Nathan Riley 1-52. Water Valley, Colt Riley 5-61, Marschall 4-50, Connor Copley 2-51, Colten Zuniga 2-30, Trae Hannon 1-34, Kade York 1-18, Demere 1-10.