EAGLE RIVER — The West Valley Wolfpack have three big games ahead of them as they wrap up their 2012 Railbelt Conference season. And as a result, Saturday afternoon’s game at Eagle River, a nonconference battle, sort of went overlooked.
“They came in and thought it was just going to happen,” West Valley head coach John Patterson said about his team’s mentality heading into Saturday’s game. “They overlooked Eagle River. They overlooked them and look what happened.”
The Wolves defeated the Wolfpack 26-17 after going up 26-0 in the first half.
“That first half was the worst football any team could have played,” Patterson said. “That was the worst football I’ve ever been associated with. ...”
After “spilling his heart” to his team at halftime, Patterson was able to draw some emotion out of the Wolfpack, who held the Wolves scoreless while managing to score 17 points in the second half.
“I told them they had to find the passion to play the game,” Patterson said. “We talked about why we play this game, and I think now, after this, they know what it takes to win, what it takes to be a champion.”
The Wolfpack opened its passionate third quarter with a scoring drive. JC Cummings had a half-opening rush for 37 yards to give the visitors enough momentum to eventually score. Cummings, who finished the game with nine carries for 79 yards, rushed into the end zone from 23 yards out to put the first West Valley points on the board.
After forcing Eagle River to a three-and-out scenario, West Valley managed to score on its second drive of the half, as well. Dominick Anderson ran it in from one yard out to bring the Wolfpack within 12 (26-14).
Anderson finished the game with nine touches for 25 yards. Larenzo Graham had 26 rushes for 89 yards to lead the Wolfpack, who had a total of 196 yards on the ground, bettering Eagle River’s 122.
Wolves junior Ed Hall led all players with 108 rushing yards after carrying the ball 16 times.
Both teams had a hard time finding a rhythm in the air. Peter Kott went 3 for 10 for the Wolves, throwing for 76 yards and a touchdown, while Graham, in the quarterback seat behind an injured Tucker Plass, was 2 for 13 for 22 yards and an interception.
Eagle River sophomore Isiah Banks led all payers in the return game, raking up 118 total return yards.
The Wolfpack, 2-3 overall, play host to the Wasilla Warriors in a Railbelt Conference game at 7 Friday night. West Valley is 1-2 in conference action.