LINDSBORG — Smoky Valley High School football fans are not accustomed to shootouts, but they were treated to one Friday night against Clay Center.
Despite a career day from quarterback Jake Lucas, the Vikings lost a 44-30 contest that drops them to 0-2 in district play. Clay Center outscored Smoky Valley 28-6 in the second and third quarters which decided the game.
Smoky Valley still rushed for 186 yards, but was much more balanced than usual. Lucas threw for 133 yards on 9-of-12 passing and a touchdown. Smoky Valley head coach Tim Lambert said it was the best passing game he’s seen in a while from a Smoky Valley quarterback.
“We’ve had trouble sustaining drives,” Lambert said. “Jake can throw it. He got comfortable, and he did a good job.”
However, Smoky Valley could not keep Clay Center out of the end zone. The Tigers racked up 394 rushing yards on 35 attempts.
Four different Tigers rushed for at least 75 yards, and three different Tigers scored a rushing touchdown. Quarterback Cooper Glavan threw a touchdown and receiver Lane Musselman caught a touchdown, meaning five different Tigers recorded a touchdown.
Clay Center fumbled the opening kickoff, and Smoky Valley recovered deep in Tigers territory. Raleigh Wilson capitalized by scoring on a one-yard touchdown. Lucas found Haven Lyell-Stewart on the two-point try to give the Vikings an early 8-0 lead.
Smoky Valley nearly took a two-score lead early in the second quarter, but fumbled the ball on the Clay Center one-yard line. It didn’t take long for Clay Center to march down the entire field and tie the game at eight.
The Vikings regained the lead with 4:43 left in the half when Lucas found Wilson for a five-yard touchdown, but again Clay Center answered back to tie the game at 14 with 1:26 left in the half.
With 30 seconds left, Smoky Valley faced a 4th and 9 deep in its own territory. The Vikings elected to fake a punt which gained a couple yards at best. Clay Center made the Vikings pay, scoring a 16-yard touchdown pass with 16 seconds left in the first half.
With 2:18 left in the third quarter, Clay Center went up 28-14 on a 57-yard touchdown run.
Smoky Valley fought all night long, but Clay Center always had an answer. Trey Kennedy scored a seven-yard touchdown early in the fourth, but Clay Center scored a touchdown less than two minutes later.
Kennedy again scored a touchdown at the 4:07 mark of the fourth quarter to make it 36-30, but the Vikings never got the ball back until Clay Center scored a touchdown with 27 seconds left.
Smoky Valley made some mistakes, but perhaps none more costly than the fumble at the one-yard line.
“There were a lot of things that made the difference,” Lambert said. “That was a big one, but we had trouble tackling and they scored 44 points on us.”
At 1-4 and 0-2 in districts, the season is not over for the Vikings. Smoky Valley heads to Chapman, who is also 0-2 in districts, next Friday.
The top four teams from each district make the playoffs, and Halstead, Clay Center, and Hesston will likely occupy three spots, leaving one spot left for Smoky Valley, Chapman, and Rock Creek.
Rock Creek was a 14-0 winner over Chapman on Friday.
“These guys battle, and we’re going to get back to work on Monday,” Lambert said. “I’m excited about another opportunity to go play a football game.”