CANEY — At the midway point of the season, Friday night’s Class 3A-District 1 showdown between Galena and Caney Valley had the feel of a playoff atmosphere … the winner moving atop the district standings with three weeks to go.
Despite trailing by eight early in the contest, the visiting Bulldogs took control of things and eventually captured a 34-16 victory over the Bullpups at Caney Valley High School Stadium.
With the win, Galena improved to 5-0 overall and 2-0 in District 1. The Bulldogs are now in sole possession of first place in the district as they return home to take on Baxter Springs on Friday, Oct. 5. The Lions (1-4, 0-2) suffered a 52-14 loss at Columbus on Friday.
As for Caney Valley, it suffered its first loss of the season, falling to 4-1 overall. The Bullpups are currently in a four-way tie with Frontenac, Parsons and Columbus for second place in the district at 1-1. CVHS will hit the road next Friday to take on Frontenac (3-2, 1-1) — a 7-6 winner at Parsons.
The host Bullpups had the upperhand early in the contest as quarterback Trey Richey found Brendon Buoy for a 45-yard touchdown bomb less than five minutes into the contest. Ben Nunneley ran in the conversion to give CVHS an 8-0 lead.
Galena came right back, though, with a 14-play, 69-yard scoring drive. The Bulldogs capped off a 6-minute and 55-second possession with a one-yard quarterback sneak into the end zone by JC Shelton. On the conversion, Shelton found Logan Henderson to even things up at 8-all after one quarter of play.
Special teams played a key factor before halftime. Caney Valley had two miscues on punts — one on a high snap and the other on a dropped snap by the punter. Both of those resulted in big losses and excellent field position for Galena deep inside CVHS territory.
Caney Valley was able to stop the first possession, forcing an interception deep in territory. But on the second miscue, the Bulldogs took full advantage on the next play with an 18-yard touchdown run by Kooper Lawson for a 14-8 lead at the intermission.
Galena had momentum at the break and came out strong to start the second half. On the first possession, the Bulldogs marched 74 yards on 10 plays. With the help of two facemask penalties by the Bullpups, GHS found the end zone on a three-yard run by Shelton to go up 20-8 with 8:34 left in the third quarter.
The teams remained scoreless the remainder of the period, but Galena started to open things up a bit in the final period. Shelton found Lawson for a 23-yard touchdown pass to push the lead up to 26-8.
Defensively, Galena put the clamps down on Caney Valley’s offense. In fact, the Bulldogs forced the Bullpups into back-to-back three-and-outs to open the second half before Logan Henderson picked off a pass in the fourth period and returned it 38 yards for another score to open things up at 34-8 with 10:14 to go.
That basically put an end to the contest. Caney Valley did manage a five-yard scoring run by Nunneley in the closing minutes but did not change the final outcome.
Galena finished the game with 341 total yards of offense, including 244 rushing. Lawson and Shelton both came up short of the century mark with 99 yards each. Shelton also completed 8-of-16 passes for 97 yards.
Caney Valley had a season-low 194 yards. Nunneley had 15 carries for 98 yards.
(Photo by Sheri Thompson)