Category: Local football

BCP Podcast No. 100: Evan, Daniel discuss Dave Campbell’s Texas Football (Part 2)

Like most followers of Texas high school football, Big Country Preps’ Evan Ren and Daniel Youngblood are big fans of Dave Campbell’s Texas Football magazine.

After using this week’s Capital Farm Credit Wednesday Night Podcast to discuss the publication’s projections on the area’s Class 1A-3A teams, Evan and Daniel discuss Texas Football’s forecast for the Big Country’s Big Schools in this week’s podcast.

FEATURE: Local coaches relish getting back with student-athletes

“It won’t be totally normal but we can get back to playing Friday night football, which is the goal. If we are playing Friday night football, all the other sports are going to be playing too. The main goal is to get to the fall.”

Those words came directly from the mouth of Abilene High football coach Mike Fullen on Monday afternoon after the Eagles wrapped up their first full day of strength and conditioning workouts earlier in the day following the state mandated shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“They’ve been playing, they’ve been swimming and they’ve been slamming up against each other, but we’ve got certain things that we have to adhere to,” Fullen said. “That’s their personal deal but if we don’t adhere (to guidelines), we could get shut down.”

The University Interscholastic League allowed schools to begin strength and conditioning workouts on June 8 and Wylie took full advantage of that opportunity. Meanwhile, Abilene High and Cooper each used two days last week as orientation to train student-athletes for how to enter campus.

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EVAN REN: 10 things I’ll take away from the COVID-19 pandemic

I’ve always held to a personal axiom that perspective is everything. True or not, how we view a situation becomes the truth in our minds.
There’s no escaping it and every one of us has our own perspective

Well, the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown have changed my perspective in several ways on several different things. And for a middle-aged guy who is pretty well set in my ways, this is like the planets aligning.

I’ve managed to list my top 10 takeaways from lockdown, as they pertain to this website and what we’re trying to accomplish here.

Let’s dive in: 

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EVAN REN: Virus may teach us some appreciation (for a while)

“Appreciation is a wonderful thing: It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.”
— Voltaire 

There’s a barbeque place near my home that I don’t like. In fact, I seldom go there — deliberately bypassing it whenever the BBQ craving hits me in favor of better choices. 

But Friday, after two months of COVID-19 exile, I decided to make a quick run to bring home some brisket for the wife and I and elected to go to the very place I try to avoid because it was convenient. 

Funny how one’s perspective can change while in isolation.

Abilene’s worst barbeque was suddenly good. In fact, it was beyond good. It was like freakin’ nirvana. 

I suspect that’s the way it’s going to be with virtually everything I had taken for granted before the lockdown. And I’m already experiencing some of it.

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WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: COVID-19 shutdown adds to whirlwind school year for Wylie’s Martin

The “What Might Have Been” feature series is Big Country Preps’ effort to celebrate area athletes who have seen their seasons affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The series will continue through June 15. If you have a suggested story for the “What Might Have Been” series, please contact Big Country Preps at Evan.Ren@BigCountryPreps.com.

When taking on a new job with new responsibilities, it’s natural to expect the unexpected.

But new Wylie football coach and athletic director Clay Martin couldn’t have possibly imagined how his first few months on the job would go.

Hired to replace his longtime boss Hugh Sandifer on Jan. 31, Martin saw his crash course in athletic directing come to a grinding halt in March, when the University Interscholastic League first announced that all spring sports action would be suspended as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. That suspension became a cancellation on Friday, effectively ending the spring athletic season and capping a whirlwind school year for Martin.

Instead of holding his first spring football workouts and supporting Wylie’s spring sport coaches and athletes through their seasons, Martin now finds himself in the same situation everyone else does these days — in coronavirus limbo.

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BREAKING: 2020 FCA All-Star Festival canceled

The Big Country chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes made the decision on Thursday morning to officially cancel its 2020 All-Star Festival in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“It is with heavy disappointment due to continued risks and uncertainties associated with the widespread Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic that the Big Country Fellowship of Christian Athletes staff has made the difficult decision to cancel the Big Country Chevy Dealers 21st annual FCA All-Star Festival scheduled for the week of June 7-13, 2020,” the organization said in a press release.

There was brief talk of postponing to a later date, but ultimately the organization decided that cancellation was best in the current climate, said FCA Area Director Andy Penney.

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BREAKING: Wylie honors Sandifer with renaming of stadium

The Wylie ISD school board voted Monday night to rename Bulldog Stadium after former football coach and athletic director Hugh Sandifer.

The stadium, which hosts football and soccer for the school, will now be known as Hugh Sandifer Stadium.

Sandifer, who coached at the school for 41 years, announced his retirement in early January. In his career, he compiled a 285-127-4 record with 27 playoff berths, four state championship game appearances and the 2004 state championship.

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BREAKING: Big Country FCA announces participants for 2020 All-Star Festival

The Big Country Fellowship of Christian Athletes announced the players selected to compete in the 2020 FCA All-Star Festival on Tuesday — a list that features 320 athletes from 71 Big Country and Concho Valley area high schools.

The Festival, which is comprised of all-star competitions in football, basketball, volleyball, baseball, softball and golf, is scheduled for June 7-13 at four different sites.

The coaches for the Festival, which were announced January, can be found here.

Continue reading for the complete list of the athletes selected to compete.

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SIGNING DAY: Trio of Wylie athletes make college decisions official

Wylie seniors Cason Hanna (football) and Austin Green (track) will be continuing their athletic careers in town at Hardin-Simmons while Dayton Barnes will be traveling a little farther after signing to play football at Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa.

The trio made those college decisions official Friday during a signing day ceremony in the Wylie High School cafeteria.

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SIGNING DAY: Six Abilene High Eagles headed to Hardin-Simmons

Six Abilene High football players will be trading their black and gold for purple and gold after announcing their intentions to continue playing collegiately at Hardin-Simmons during a signing day ceremony Friday at the Chuck Moser Field House. 

Offensive linemen Khalil Spivey and Jaxon Smith, defensive end Dylan Wright, safeties Colton Wilson and Jorge Hernandez, and running back Davonta Mayse all chose to extend their time as teammates a few more years, accepting offers to play for coach Jesse Burleson and the Division III powerhouse Cowboys.

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SIGNING DAY: Eight Cooper Cougars announce college destinations

After helping the Cooper football team to an 11-win season in the fall, eight members of the Cougar senior class will be taking their talents to the next level after announcing their college decisions during a signing day ceremony Friday at Cougar Gym.

The ceremony, which was delayed two days by the snowstorm that hit Abilene early Wednesday morning, saw all-state cornerback Dylon Davis sign to play for Division II Midwestern State, linebacker Aeneas Favors accept a preferred walk-on opportunity with Division I Oklahoma State and six others commit to stay in town and play for Division III power Hardin-Simmons.

Comprising the list of future HSU Cowboys were the offensive line trio of Devon Cosby, Gage McVey and Justin Smith, the defensive line duo of Colton Grimes and Jorrian Moses, and safety LaDainian Diaz, who recovered from an ACL injury that cost him his junior season to put up big numbers as a senior.

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BREAKING: UIL announces new districts for 2020-21 and 2021-22 school years (five videos attached)

The University Interscholastic League announced the new athletic districts for the 2020-21 and 2021-22 school years Monday morning during its biennial reclassification and realignment.

Here are all the football and basketball districts including schools in the Big Country Preps coverage area. 

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Wylie ISD names Martin as head football coach, but in-house move doesn’t necessarily mean subtle changes

Wylie ISD elected to stay “in house” in replacing legendary Athletic Director/Head Football Coach Hugh Sandifer, naming longtime assistant Clay Martin as his replacement at a school board meeting on Friday. 

Martin, who has been on staff for 27 years, has served as Wylie’s defensive coordinator for most of that time as well as head baseball coach — the latter of which saw him take a state titles in 2016 and 2017. 

“I’m obviously very excited to continue what  Coach Hugh Sandifer has done, and what we’ve all done — all of us together, the school and the administration,” Martin said. “To be able to represent them and lead the athletic program just means the world to me.” 

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BCP Podcast No. 77: Evan Daniel discuss Jim Ned basketball with coach Eric Phelps

Since taking over the Jim Ned boys basketball program, coach Eric Phelps has put his stamp on a program that has long been one of the Big Country’s best.

Earlier this week, Phelps joined Big Country Preps’ Evan Ren and Daniel Youngblood to discuss this year’s team, the pressure of leading one of the area’s most successful programs and his time as a Texas Tech student manager under Bobby Knight for this week’s Capital Farm Credit Wednesday Night Podcast.

Also in this episode, Evan and Daniel discuss the retirement announcement of longtime Wylie football coach Hugh Sandifer as well as the other prominent Big Country coaches who hung up their whistles this school year.

DANIEL YOUNGBLOOD: Wylie’s Sandifer a coaching legend, better man

When I arrived in Abilene in June 2007, less than a month after graduating from Baylor, my experience with the city was confined to my two-day interview with the Reporter-News.

The only things I knew about the Wylie football program I’d soon be covering for the newspaper were those I’d been told — that the Bulldogs were really good and that coach Hugh Sandifer was an icon in the south Abilene community.

It was only after being here a little while that I realized why those things were — and that those two seemingly interconnected facts stood largely independent of each other.

Sandifer, who announced Friday that he’ll be ending his 41-year tenure at Wylie when he retires at the end of this school year, is and will be remembered as a great coach. But it’s not his 285 career wins (the 17th highest total in Texas high school football history), four state championship game appearances or 2004 title run with current Redskins quarterback Case Keenum that will define his legendary career.

It is, instead, the integrity with which he operated and the way he treated and impacted people from his role as a mentor — characteristics widely celebrated in the social media response to Friday’s news and qualities to which I, personally, can attest.

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UPDATED: Longtime Wylie football coach Hugh Sandifer announces retirement

Longtime Wylie football coach Hugh Sandifer announced his retirement Friday, ending a 41-year tenure at the only school at which he’s ever coached.

Starting his career as an assistant out of Abilene Christian University and holding roles across multiple sports in his early years, Sandifer took over the Wylie football program in 1986 and, over the next decade, built the Bulldogs into a regional power.

He leaves high school football with a 285-127-4 overall record, including 27 playoff berths, four state championship game appearances and a title in 2004. But his on-field performance only tells part of the story, said Wylie Superintendent Joey Light, who had known before Friday that this announcement was coming.

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BCP Podcast No. 76: Evan, Daniel discuss All-Big Country Preps football teams, area hoops

After a two-week holiday break, Big Country Preps’ Evan Ren and Daniel Youngblood return to the Capital Farm Credit Wednesday Night Podcast to discuss the All-Big Country Preps football teams, released Wednesday.

Also in this episode, Evan and Daniel speak briefly on the Big Country hoops scene.

Continue to check back at BigCountryPreps.com each Wednesday night at 7 p.m. when Evan and Dan discuss the current happenings in Big Country High School sports — often with an interesting sports figure from around the area.

You can also peruse our BCP Podcast archive, which features dozens of our previous shows with prominent coaches and Big Country media fixtures. 

Inquiries regarding these podcasts may be directed to Evan Ren at Evan.Ren@BigCountryPreps.com. 

If you have a suggested topic of conversation or a recommended guest, don’t hesitate to contact us! 

BCP PODCAST ARCHIVE 

BIG COUNTRY PREPS FACEBOOK PAGE 

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AP ALL-STATE: Cooper’s Davis, Hawley’s Marshall headline area honorees

Cooper defensive back Dylon Davis and Hawley running Colton Marshall headlined a list of 48 Big Country players to earn all-state designation from The Associated Press Sports Editors last week, garnering player of the year honors for their respective classifications.

Davis, who led the state in interceptions this season with 16, was the defensive player of the year in Class 5A, while Marshall, a 3,500-yard rusher, was named Class 2A’s top offensive player.

Those two, who both led their teams to deep playoff runs, were among a group of 11 local or area players to earn first-team accolades, while the Big Country accounted for 15 second-team spots and 26 honorable mention nods across the five 11-man classifications.

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BCP Podcast No. 73: AHS’ Justin Reese checks in to talk Eagle hoops, Cane’s Key City Classic

As a former Abilene High Eagle himself, second-year AHS boys basketball coach Justin Reese has a strong desire to return the Eagle program to the glory it enjoyed in the 1980s and 90s. And for him, a big part of that is bringing back some of the traditions that helped make the AHS program what it was.

One of those was Abilene ISD’s Key City Classic, which is back for the first time in decades thanks in large part to Reese, who made it a priority upon his hiring to bring a high-profile tournament back to town. With the first Cane’s Key City Classic set to tip off Thursday, Reese took a few minutes to chat with Big Country Preps Daniel Youngblood about the tournament, his return to Abilene and this year’s Eagle team for the Capital Farm Credit Wednesday Night Podcast.

Also in this episode, Daniel and partner Evan Ren discuss last week’s playoff football results and this week’s region championship game matchups involving area squads. 

Continue to check back at BigCountryPreps.com each Wednesday night at 7 p.m. when Evan and Dan discuss the current happenings in Big Country High School sports — often with an interesting sports figure from around the area.

You can also peruse our BCP Podcast archive, which features dozens of our previous shows with prominent coaches and Big Country media fixtures. 

Inquiries regarding these podcasts may be directed to Evan Ren at Evan.Ren@BigCountryPreps.com. 

If you have a suggested topic of conversation or a recommended guest, don’t hesitate to contact us! 

BCP PODCAST ARCHIVE 

BIG COUNTRY PREPS FACEBOOK PAGE 

BIG COUNTRY PREPS TWITTER PAGE 

BREAKING: UIL announces conference cutoffs for next two school years

The UIL announced the conference cutoffs for the 2020-21 and 2021-22 school years on Tuesday. Here are the cutoff figures and a list of where each school in the Big Country Preps coverage area will fall at the next district realignment.

An asterisk has been placed by every school that has changed divisions since the last alignment, with an arrow indicating which direction they’ve moved.

The UIL will announce the new districts for the next two athletic years during its biennial realignment on Feb. 3.

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GAME STORY: Denton Ryan ends Cooper’s season with 58-20 win

DENTON — The Cooper Cougars got off to about as strong a start as they could have hoped for Friday in their Region I-5A Division I semifinal matchup against Denton Ryan. But once the Raiders got going, they never let up in a 58-20 win on a mist-soaked field at C.H. Collins Athletic Complex.

After intercepting Ryan quarterback Seth Henigan on the second play of the game and scoring on a 24-yard run by Noah Garcia to go up 7-0, Cooper surrendered 44 unanswered points — 30 of those before halftime — to close their season at 11-2.

The game was tied at 7-all at the end of the first quarter, but a 23-0 Raider run through the second quarter put the Coogs in a hole they couldn’t dig out of.

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BCP Podcast No. 72: Hawley’s Mitch Ables talks Bearcats football with Evan, Daniel

During his time at Hawley, Mitch Ables has steadily built the long-suffering Bearcat football program into an area contender. This year, he has the ‘Cats on their deepest run ever after the first area-round playoff victory in program history over defending state runner-up New Deal last Friday.

Earlier this week, Ables took some time to chat with Big Country Preps’ Evan Ren and Daniel Youngblood about this year’s team, which is unbeaten heading into Friday’s Region I-2A Division I semifinal matchup against Sundown (8-4), for the Capital Farm Credit Wednesday Night Podcast.

Also in this episode Evan and Daniel discuss their takeaways from the second round of the high school football playoffs and preview this week’s third round.

Continue to check back at BigCountryPreps.com each Wednesday night at 7 p.m. when Evan and Dan discuss the current happenings in Big Country High School sports — often with an interesting sports figure from around the area.

You can also peruse our BCP Podcast archive, which features dozens of our previous shows with prominent coaches and Big Country media fixtures. 

Inquiries regarding these podcasts may be directed to Evan Ren at Evan.Ren@BigCountryPreps.com. 

If you have a suggested topic of conversation or a recommended guest, don’t hesitate to contact us! 

BCP PODCAST ARCHIVE 

BIG COUNTRY PREPS FACEBOOK PAGE 

BIG COUNTRY PREPS TWITTER PAGE 

BCP Podcast No. 71: Evan, Daniel discuss first week of football playoffs

After a rough first week of the high school football playoffs, the Big Country has just 12 teams remaining.

Forgoing a guest this week to dive into the bi-district results and area-round matchups, Big Country Preps’ Evan Ren and and Daniel say goodbye to the teams that fell in their playoff opener and discuss the postseason future of those still playing.

Continue to check back at BigCountryPreps.com each Wednesday night at 7 p.m. when Evan and Dan discuss the current happenings in Big Country High School sports — often with an interesting sports figure from around the area.

You can also peruse our BCP Podcast archive, which features dozens of our previous shows with prominent coaches and Big Country media fixtures. 

Inquiries regarding these podcasts may be directed to Evan Ren at Evan.Ren@BigCountryPreps.com. 

If you have a suggested topic of conversation or a recommended guest, don’t hesitate to contact us! 

BCP PODCAST ARCHIVE 

BIG COUNTRY PREPS FACEBOOK PAGE 

BIG COUNTRY PREPS TWITTER PAGE 

BIG COUNTRY PREPS PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Marshall takes the award again

For the third time in a two-year span, Hawley’s Colton Marshall has captured the Big Country Preps Player of the Week award. And there is little doubt that he earned it. 

Helping Hawley to a 58-15 bi-district win over Chico, Marshall rushed for 271 yards on just 23 carries to help the Bearcats improve to 11-0.

By night’s end, the Big Country’s rushing leader had scored seven touchdowns and added three two-point conversions to lock up the accolade.

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GAME STORY: Cooper defense answers call in 42-21 win over Del Valle

On a night when the Cooper offense was bottled up for the most part by a scrappy El Paso Del Valle squad, the Cougar defense made sure CHS would have a spot in the second round of the Region I-5A Division I playoffs.

Brady Miller, Dylon Davis and Isaiah Boutte all returned interceptions for scores Friday as the Coogs picked off six passes in total to fuel coach Aaron Roan’s squad to a 42-21 victory over the Conquistadors and into the area round, where it will face Azle next week at Tarleton Memorial Stadium in Stephenville.

Despite being outgained 404-236 and running just 36 offensive plays to Del Valle’s 75, Cooper never trailed in improving to 10-1 on the season.

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Big Country Preps’ Pick ‘Em Panel (Week 11)

Each week here at Big Country Preps, we’ll post our picks for all of that week’s 11-man games, in addition to the results of Evan Ren’s Twitter polls for each matchup.

For those interested in voting, polls go up on Monday night each week and close Thursday morning.

Disagree with our picks or the Twitter consensus? Let us know in the comments section below.

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BCP Podcast No. 70: Evan, Daniel chat with Sweetwater’s Ben McGehee

After coaching Sweetwater to a 10-win season in his first year as the school’s football coach in 2017 and experiencing a tough 1-9 campaign with a young squad last season, Ben McGehee has the Mustangs back on the rise this fall. Leading an SHS team that is still among the youngest in the Big Country, McGehee guided the Mustangs to back-to-back wins in their final two regular season games to move to 4-6 and secure a playoff berth.

Earlier this week, McGehee took some time to chat with Big Country Preps’ Evan Ren and Daniel Youngblood about his team’s run to the postseason, the potential of his young nucleus and what his experience at Sweetwater has been like for this week’s Capital Farm Credit Wednesday Night Podcast.

Also in this episode, Evan and Daniel discuss the Big Country’s bi-district playoff landscape, previewing the top area matchups of the first week of the postseason.

Continue to check back at BigCountryPreps.com each Wednesday night at 7 p.m. when Evan and Dan discuss the current happenings in Big Country High School sports — often with an interesting sports figure from around the area.

You can also peruse our BCP Podcast archive, which features dozens of our previous shows with prominent coaches and Big Country media fixtures. 

Inquiries regarding these podcasts may be directed to Evan Ren at Evan.Ren@BigCountryPreps.com. 

If you have a suggested topic of conversation or a recommended guest, don’t hesitate to contact us! 

BCP PODCAST ARCHIVE 

BIG COUNTRY PREPS FACEBOOK PAGE 

BIG COUNTRY PREPS TWITTER PAGE 

District 3-6A: Week 11 Report

Euless Trinity 56, North Richland Hills Richland 7 — Playing Richland in a winner-take-all matchup for the District 3-6A title, the Trojans made quick work of the Rebels, rushing for 229 yards and forcing five turnovers in a blowout win.

No. 23 Trinity (9-1, 5-1) built a 42-0 lead by halftime, eliminating all suspense from this one early. Running back Zechariah Moore led the Trojan offense, rushing for 124 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries, while quarterback Marcus Ervin completed both of his pass attempts for 137 yards and a score.

The Trojans, this district’s top seed in Class 6A Division I, will open the playoffs against Arlington Lamar. Richland (4-6, 4-2), the top seed in Division II, will play Arlington High in the bi-district round.

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District 2-5A Division I: Week 11 Report

Amarillo High 49, Cooper 35 — The No. 8 Cougars outgained the Sandies 520-346 on Friday, but a rough second quarter put them in a 21-point hole they could never quite dig out of in suffering their first loss of the season.

Amarillo High, which went 10 of 15 on third downs and had five conversions of third-and-8 or longer,  led 28-14 at halftime and pushed its lead to 35-14 in the third quarter, before Cooper quarterback Aidan Thompson led a pair of rallies to pull the Coogs within seven. Blake Bedwell put the game away for the Sandies, though, scoring his third touchdown with 1:57 remaining.

Thompson finished 19 of 34 for 221 yards and three touchdowns to lead Cooper, which also got 226 yards and two TDs rushing from Noah Garcia. AHS, which clinched the District 2-5A DI title with the win, was paced by Bedwell (17-88, 3 TDs rushing) and quarterback Will Maynard (11-23-0—136, 2 TDs passing; 11-64 rushing). 

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District 3-5A Division II: Week 11 Report

Valentine

Wylie 28, Plainview 6 — Coach Hugh Sandifer’s Bulldogs outgained Plainview 313-228 Friday, building a 21-0 halftime lead on their way to a comfortable win in the season finale for both teams.

With the victory, Wylie (2-8, 2-3) had a chance to make the playoffs with a Canyon Randall win over Lubbock Cooper, but the Raiders just missed the upset in a 37-31 loss.

Junior running back Noah Beach, who was playing for the injured Jaxon Hansen, led the effort for WHS, rushing for 89 yards and a touchdown while adding 21 yards receiving. Quarterback Balin Valentine also had a solid night, passing for 150 yards and two touchdowns.

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