This time, though, near the two-minute mark of the third quarter, it’s turned out much different for the Pleasant Valley senior.
After just missing a pick near the end of the first half, Atherton ran under the lofted ball killing Ohatchee’s last real threat of the night giving the Raiders two things they haven’t seen recently — a win over Ohatchee, 28-0, and a shutout to boot.
“I wanted it back pretty bad,” Atherton said of the first interception opportunity. “Me and (Brandon Vice) had been going at it pretty hard all night, and I just got a chance to make a play.
“But the whole game was pretty meaningful because the past two years, we’ve been the only team they’ve beat, and to come out here and put on a show for the fans really helped make everything better.”
It sure made Pleasant Valley’s standing in the Class 2A, Region 6 race look a whole lot better.
The Raiders are now 4-2 both overall and in the region standings with only two region games remaining on the schedule — both of which are pivotal.
Friday night the Raiders travel to Fyffe and then in two weeks, they’ll play host to Ider. Each team currently stands 5-1 in region play. Westbrook remains undefeated in region play.
“It’s probably one of the biggest games that’s been around here for a long time,” Davis said of the showdown with Fyffe.
With only 68 total yards in the first half — with half of that coming on one play — Ohatchee never posed a real threat to Pleasant Valley, allowing the Raiders to control the momentum of the game.
The first half was much of what Raiders fans have come to expect in the team’s current four-game winning streak: Good defense, strong running and a sprinkling of strong passing.
Pleasant Valley opened the game with a Josh White pass, and then went to Kyle Bean on six straight carries. White kept it himself for the final 24 yards of the drive to put the Raiders on the board.
Bean added two 4-yard touchdown runs to help set the 21-0 halftime lead.
While the momentum was solidly on the Raiders’ side, the first half was far from perfect in Davis’ eyes.
“Well, we moved the ball, but we didn’t move it with the consistency I’d like to see,” he said. “We had too many third and longs — third and six, third and seven.
“Seemed like we’d go forward and backward on second. I think we’re still searching for an identity on offense.”
Bean added his third and final touchdown on a spectacular run near the start of the final quarter.
The senior took the handoff and went left before blocking broke down. He stopped on a dime and hopped away from a defender, then cut across the grain knifing through the guts of the Ohatchee defense for a 51-yard touchdown run.
Bean finished with 21 carries for 141 yards and the three scores. White added 55 yards on eight carries on the ground and was 2-for-2 through the air for 25 yards.
As the attention turns to the Raiders’ pivotal game with Fyffe, players say the four-game winning streak has helped to dramatically change the attitude of this Raider team from where it was during Week 3.
“Our confidence has built a lot since the first two games,” White said. “We’re just pushing forward and plowing ahead
“Our confidence is definitely through the roof right now.”
Bran Strickland is the sports editor for The Star. He can be reached at 235-3570 or follow him on Twitter @bran_strickland.