The Vance Cougars’ offense has been a known quantity this football season.
But the football conventional wisdom is that “defense wins championships” and that was how Cougars coach Aaron Brand framed his team’s 41-17 home victory over Hough, handing Vance the conference title.
“Our defense hasn’t gotten enough credit,” Brand said after his team recovered three fumbles — two on kickoff returns — and intercepted a pass while keeping the visiting Huskies between the 20-yard lines for most of the game. “We knew if we could get stops and keep the ball in the hands of our playmakers on offense we had a pretty good chance in this game,” he said.
That worked out pretty well for the Cougars, who also got outstanding games from their top offensive players. Tight end/running back Jeremiah Hall scored three touchdowns, including two on runs of 4 and 16 yards in the fourth quarter to salt the game away. Quarterback Kingsley Ifedi rushed 23 times for 111 yards and two touchdowns and was an efficient 13-of-18 passing for 157 yards.
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But the big play in the game was the second half kickoff, which the Cougars, leading 14-3, recovered at the Hough 15. Hall crashed in from 1 yard four plays later for a 20-3 lead.
The Huskies got second-half touchdown on a 3-yard run by halfback Jarrett Nagy, who rushed 21 times for 105 yards and a 4-yard pass from quarterback Jackson Gibbs to Davis Bandi. The latter made it a 27-17 game, but Hough couldn’t get any closer.
Quote: “We told the players that the second-half kickoff was the most important play of the season. Our guys were just relentless in the second half — we kept getting stops and we had some great championship drives. With all the mammoth programs we have in this conference we’re proud to get this done.” — Brand
Records: Hough 7-4, 4-2 MECKA 4A; Vance 10-1; 5-1 MECKA 4A
Worth mentioning: The Cougars finished in a tie with Mallard Creek at the top of the standings, but Vance got the tiebreaker by virtue of their win over the Mavericks two weeks ago. ...Hough, last year’s conference champion, was in a three-way tie for first with Vance and Mallard Creek entering the game.
What's Next: Vance and Hough await the playoff pairings to see who they’ll be playing in the first round.