Spring Valley football coach Marcus Teal wasn’t always sold on Diyan Nedelchev as his kicker.
But Teal wouldn’t trade his senior kicker for anyone after Friday night.
Nedelchev booted two second-half field goals, including a 33-yarder with 5:47 to play, to give the Grizzlies a 13-12 win over visiting Legacy in the season opener for both teams.
“Diyan, he’s been our kicker for a while, and I had my doubts about him,” Teal said. “But that kid worked his tail off over the summer. He went to camps, and he works every day in practice on his kicks. And he had two big kicks.
“He told me he wasn’t going to let me down, and he didn’t, and that was the ballgame.”
Things didn’t look good for Spring Valley early. The Grizzlies were outgained 242-32 in the first half, and Legacy held a 12-0 lead at the break.
“We were just killing ourselves in the first half,” Teal said. “We were missing tackles, the defense wasn’t reading their keys, and we weren’t making the plays that we were supposed to.
“It was tough. It was frustrating.”
Things changed in the second half. After allowing 220 rushing yards in the first half, the Grizzlies held Legacy to minus-4 yards in the second half, and the Longhorns didn’t complete a pass.
“We told them we were down two scores and we were lucky to be down two scores,” Teal said. “But we hung in there, and the defense just rose to the occasion.”
Legacy hurt itself with two second-half turnovers. The first led to a 72-yard Spring Valley scoring drive capped by a 1-yard run by Nick Santos.
The Grizzlies were facing a third-and-25 from their own 13, but Jordan Cox hit Eric Derkas with a 55-yard pass to move the ball into Legacy territory.
“We had that one big play with the long pass, and we just needed a spark,” Teal said.
Santos’ TD run was the second big play of the drive, as he scored on fourth-and-goal.
Spring Valley got the ball back after another Legacy miscue. The Longhorns lined up to punt at their own 42, but a bad snap got past punter Evan Potts, who finally scooped up the ball and was tackled at the 16.
Spring Valley didn’t move the ball on the series, but Nedelchev came through with a 36-yard field goal with 53.6 seconds to go in the third quarter to cut the lead to 12-10.
Potts shanked a 5-yard punt on Legacy’s next possession, giving Spring Valley the ball at the Longhorns 40.
Six plays later, Nedelchev hit the 33-yarder to put Spring Valley ahead for good.
“We are one team, one family,” Nedelchev said. “We do whatever Coach tells us to do. I want to thank coach Teal for everything he has been doing for me.”
The game was delayed for 30 minutes because of lightning following Nedelchev’s kick.
After the delay, the Longhorns were unable to move the ball on two possessions, though Legacy’s L.J. McMorris did have a 66-yard touchdown run with 55 seconds to play that was called back because of a holding penalty.
McMorris rushed for 156 yards on 22 carries but fumbled three times. Jordan Ireland added 94 yards and two TDs on 14 carries.
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