Here are 10 observations from TVCC’s 56-43 loss to Snow College in the Battle in the Valley Saturday night at Bruce Field.
— There was a long line at the ticket booth as I walked into Bruce Field 45 minutes before kickoff, and I mean a looong line. A great crowd showed up for the game including a suprising number of Badger fans on the visitor side. Surprising because Snow College is from Utah.
— Any time you lose by double digits, including falling behind 24-0 in the first half, you can bet the coaches are going to have plenty of concerns. In fact, I am glad I wasn’t in the room when the TVCC coaches broke down the video. One thing they don’t have to worry about is the team’s heart. The Cardinals were able to cut the lead to just one touchdown with 10 minutes left in the game, but the deficit was too much to overcome. They never gave up, however, and fought to the very end.
— Big game by TVCC quarterback Colt Atkinson who threw for 295 yards and three touchdowns — and he had another sure TD dropped in the end zone — plus ran for 58 yards and two more touchdowns. But it wasn’t all great. Atkinson also threw three interception, although one of those didn’t result in a turnover because the Snow defender fumbled the ball back to the Cardinals. And, if I tell the truth, I kind of hold my breath everytime Colt runs the ball because he’s not the biggest quarterback I’ve ever seen.
— New offensive coordinator Rashad Jackson showed he has a few tricks up his sleeve Saturday night. Following a turnover, the Cardinals were set up with a first down on the Snow 38 early in the fourth quater. Atkinson threw what looked like a wide receiver screen to Tyr’K Barnes, who then threw over the top of the defense to a wide open Dhailon Phillips for a touchdown. Great call, Coach Jackson! Also, kudos to Barnes for a perfect pass. It isn’t always easy for a non quarterback to hit those.
— The turnover setting up the trick play above was an interception by Jayrin Wilson, his second of the night. Both interceptions led to Cardinal touchdowns. The linebackers also showed playmaking ability when blitzing and the defensive line was able to generate some pass pressure. That was the good.
— The bad was the tackling and giving up big plays. Multiple times the Cardinals had Badger ball carriers and receivers bottled up only to let them break free for long gains. It was a problem that haunted TVCC all night long. The Snow offense had 19 plays of 10 or more yards, and nine plays of 25-plus, including a run of 80 yards and pass plays of 67 and 66 yards that all resulted in touchdowns.
— The game had a bunch of crazy plays, including a Snow interception that turned into a TVCC fumble recovery (Artiss Henderson) on the same play. TVCC also blocked a pair of Snow extra points, with one being returned by Eric Cuffee for 2 points for the Cards. That’s one of those rules I knew, but I never actually saw it happen before.
— Good job by the local guy! Former Malakoff Tiger QT Barker caught three passes for 25 yards and a touchdown. He also drew a long pass interference penalty against Snow. Always fun to see a Henderson County native doing well for the Cards.
— What was up with the play clock on the Cardinals’ second touchdown? The Badgers set up to punt facing a fourth and 8 from their own 34 late in the second half. The snap sailed over the punter’s head and finally came to rest at the Snow 2 yard line. It was a huge play for TVCC, then down 24-7. But the Cardinals were forced to call a timeout because the play clock was down to single digits before the offense ever began getting into formation. I don’t know the exact timing rule there, but it sure didn’t seem to me that the Cardinals took an extra long time during the change of possession. I’m putting that one on the referees.
— I saw TVCC President Dr. Jerry King walking around the stadium keeping an eye on things before the game. I love that. I think it is pretty cool to get the level of football you get from the Cards and the Southwest Junior College Football Conference and still get the small town feel of seeing the school’s president hanging out with everyone else.
Unfortunately, I won’t get to travel with the Cardinals next week as they hit the road to take on the New Mexico Military Institute. I will be back in two weeks, however, when the Tyler Apaches come to Bruce Field in an important SWJCFC matchup. Kickoff Saturday, Sept. 8, is set for 7 p.m.