After dropping its first three contests of the 2021 campaign, coach Hady Ford’s Tug Valley Panthers earned their first win of the year as they rolled to a 46-12 victory over the visiting Rebels from Hurley, Virginia on Friday night in Naugatuck.
Tug Valley (1-3) wasted no time lighting up the scoreboard as Tanner Kirk took a carry and ran in for a three-yard score a minute and 36 seconds into the game. The PAT was no good, and the Panthers led 6-0 in the early going.
Hurley went three and out on their first drive and then, Kirk extended the Panthers lead as he scored on a 20-yard TD run to cap off a two-play drive. The PAT was again no good and Tug Valley’s lead extended to 12-0 with 7:57 left in the first quarter.
On the Rebels’ next drive, a bad snap sailed over quarterback Christopher Mullins and the ball rolled all the way to the end zone. Mullins picked it up and ran through the back of the end zone, resulting in a Tug Valley safety and a 14-0 Panthers lead with 6:43 left in the period.
The Panthers’ offense kept the first quarter onslaught going. After a penalty negated a TD catch from Tanner Urconis, Tug Valley made up for it as quarterback Elijah Fluty took a two-yard keeper to paydirt with 5:45 left in the first quarter. The extra-point was good and the Panthers lead stood at 21-0.
The first play of the second quarter saw more fireworks from the Panthers. The offense made up for the penalty on Urconis’ TD catch earlier in the game as Fluty uncorked a 30-yard scoring toss to him to increase Tug Valley’s lead to 27-0 with 11:54 left in the first half after an unsuccessful PAT.
Kirk was far from done making scoring plays in this game.
He found the end zone on a 38-yard TD scamper with 8:42 left in the first half. The extra-point was no good, and Tug Valley now led 33-0.
On their next drive, Kirk again took a carry to the house, this time from 30 yards. The PAT was successful, and the Panthers’ lead swelled to 40-0 with 2:25 left in the half.
Before the second half was over, Kirk couldn’t resist making a splash on the defensive side of the ball as well.
With 31 seconds left until halftime, Kirk recovered a Hurley fumble and took it 51 yards the other way for a scoop and score. The PAT was unsuccessful, and Tug Valley held a 46-0 lead at intermission.
Besides a 38-yard Rebels TD run late in the third quarter and an offensive fumble recovery in the end zone for a score, both which contained unsuccessful two-point tries after, there was nothing in the way of scoring as backups were in the game for both teams. Tug Valley won the game by a final score of 46-12.
Kirk made plays all over the field on the night and was unstoppable. He rushed for 245 yards on 10 carries and four TDs. He also had the aforementioned fumble recovery that he took back for a score.
Fluty completed seven of 11 passes for 87 yards and a TD. Urconis led the Panthers in receiving with four catches for 49 yards and a scoring reception. Alex Vance and Brayden Dotson also hauled in a catch each with 21 and 15 yards, respectively.
The Panthers totaled 335 yards of total offense on the night. Dakoda Walker and Austin Smith tied for the team lead in tackles with six each.
Tug Valley improved to an overall record of 1-3 with the win, and they will return to the home front looking to keep the good times rolling as they face the Tolsia Rebels in a 7:30 p.m. kickoff from Bob Brewer Stadium on Friday night.