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Loss to ACR ends Sun Valley's season & Sam Howell's career

By Tim Winters, 11/25/18, 9:15PM EST


A.C. Reynolds defeated Sun Valley 22-14 derailing the Spartans from the 3AA state playoffs for the second consecutive year.

When the rain started to drop in Asheville on Friday night, it did little to change the outlook of Spartan Nation. The purpose and goal were clear, exact revenge by defeating A.C. Reynolds knocking them out of the playoffs as they did to Sun Valley the year before in the state semis.

The positive vibe continued during Sun Valley's opening possession that ended in a score when Sam Howell hit Gavin Blackwell on a 17-yard touchdown strike giving the Spartans the early 7-0 edge.

During that opening drive, the intensity of the rain picked up,  but the footballs in the rotation were still reasonably dry.  That changed quickly. Along with the driving, freezing rain, gusts of wind would add to the elements descending upon R.L. Dalton Stadium. 

It became apparent to me that the game featuring Sam Howell, the greatest quarterback in Union County history, would have to battle more than just the eleven on the opposing defense. 

As each minute passed after Valley's opening score, the weather got worse. I mentioned on Twitter that I had never witnessed a game in person from the high school level to the pros where game conditions deteriorated as quickly as they did on Friday night. It was cold and wet- a bad combination for skill position players.

Heck, ACR's QB Alex Flinn a D-1 commit to East Carolina can also sling the rock but with weather imposing its will it became clear the passing game would take a back seat to field position and a strong rushing attack.

That was the difference. A.C. Reynolds was able to rely heavily on two featured backs and Flinn to effectively run the ball and score their three touchdowns and one field goal.

Howell did all he could do with his legs rushing for 161 yards on 32 carries and one touchdown.

Sun Valley wraps up their season with an overall record of 10-3.

Along with the loss, the end of four years with Sam Howell behind center. In his four years at Sun Valley, Howell established himself as the greatest quarterback to play in the Union County. Number fourteen also is the state's all-time leader in total offensive yards with 17,036. 

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