Turnovers never help an offense, but Friday night, they seemed to hurt the Valley City High School football team a little more than normal.
After finishing the first half of their 22-16 home loss to Wahpeton with an eight point lead, the Hi-Liners struggled to find offensive momentum. And when they found bits of momentum, they were cut short by late turnovers that gave possession back to the Huskies.
"Turnovers killed us tonight, they really did," Valley City coach Scott Roehrich said.
The total for the second half was only three, but all came at crucial points.
The first was on Valley City's first drive of the second half, when the Hi-Liners fumbled the ball at their own 18 yard line, which Wahpeton recovered.
The Hi-Liner defense kept Wahpeton from scoring on the ensuing drive, forcing a fumble from quarterback Alex Lunneborg.
The next turnover came with just under five minutes left in the game as the Hi-Liners got their first drive following a game-tying touchdown by Wahpeton.
With the ball on Wahpeton's 44 yard-line, Valley City quarterback threw a 10 yard pass to Brandon Breckheimer, who was hit and fumbled the ball. Wahpeton defensive back Tyler Gripentrog picked up the ball and ran it 65 yards to give the Huskies the 22-16 lead after the team's two-point conversion run was stopped.
After getting the ball back on the kickoff, Valley City worked the it into Wahpeton's defensive territory again, but were stopped when Svenningsen had a pass intercepted by Cole Gilles with 2:46 left. Wahpeton ran the clock out from there.
Early on, though, it seemed like it would be Valley City's game.
The Hi-Liner defense established itself early, stopping the Huskies' first two drives, despite the second starting on Valley City's own 29 after a fumbled punt gave Wahpeton possession back.
In the closing minutes of the first quarter, Valley City drove down the field behind a variety of runners and an eight-yard pass.
The Hi-Liners scored when Breckheimer broke free for a 36-yard run. A two-point conversion run by Olstad made it 8-0 with 1:40 left in the quarter.
Valley City continued controlling the clock throughout the half, scoring again on a one-yard sneak by Svenningson, which gave Valley City a 16-0 lead after Olstad ran in the point-after with 1:52 left in the half.
Wahpeton coach Brian Dokken credited Valley City's ability to control the ball and clock with his team's early offensive struggles.
"Give Valley City credit, they played us really physical," he said. "They smacked us about and we didn't respond, so we knew we had to do some adjustments at halftime, open it up a bit. Luckily we had a couple of good breaks."
Among those breaks was a play at the end of the half that resulted in Wahpeton's first touchdown.
With 4th and 10 on Valley City's 40-yard line and only eight seconds to play, Wahpeton quarterback Jack Christensen threw a long pass to Alex Lunneborg in the red zone. Lunneborg came down with the ball, landing after the clock had expired.
The Huskies were given another play, though, after Valley City was penalized for both roughing the passer and unsportsmanline conduct, which gave Wahpeton the ball at the four yard line. Brock Lingen ran the ball in for a touchdown on that play.