With just 26 players, there is plenty of room on the Vallivue team bus.

The same couldn't be said for the Hillcrest rushing lanes Friday night.

With just 129 rushing yards on 39 carries, the Hillcrest offense stumbled during a 28-14 loss to Vallivue at Thunder Stadium.

Hillcrest threw for 25 more to finish with 154 total yards, a total senior lineman JT Roberts called “unacceptable.”

“We were doing a lot of belly bumping, and honestly, Vallivue was the more physical team tonight,” Roberts said. “The came out and pushed us around.”

The Vallivue offense didn’t exactly light up the scoreboard either, finishing with 280 yards.

But the Falcons jumped out early in the first half, and scored on each of their first two possessions of the second half to force the Knights out of their control game plan.

After the visiting Falcons put Hillcrest in a 14-0 hole late in the second quarter, Hillcrest defender Tre Kofe picked off Vallivue quarterback Casey Cope, giving the Knights a short field on the Vallivue 21.

Four plays later, Hillcrest quarterback Demik Hatch went around the left side untouched for a 5-yard score.

The air went quickly out of the Knights' balloon in the third quarter, however, after a fumbled exchange on their first possession gave Vallivue a short field, which the Falcons converted into a 21-7 lead.

Hillcrest then drove the field, eating up most of the third quarter clock to pull within 21-14 on a 2-yard run by Kofe.

Vallivue answered with another score, converting two fourth downs including a 4th- and 19, and a 4th-and goal on the 1-yard-line.

“We kind of killed ourselves with penalties, weren’t making our blocks and came out flat,” Hillcrest senior lineman Braxton Holland said. “I don’t think they were the better team. I just think we needed to come out with more energy.”

Kofe led the Knights with 61 rushing yards, and the Falcons got a team-best 67 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns out of junior Santiago Diaz.

Vallivue also threw for 167 yards, including 131 to standout senior receiver Lincoln Marler.

Hillcrest (1-1) continues its march through the nonconference schedule, hosting the Madison Bobcats next week.

Its preseason schedule now complete, Vallivue (1-1) returns home to host Middleton in Caldwell in the Falcons’ conference opener.

VALLIVUE 28, HILLCREST 14

Valivue 6 8 7 7 -- 28

Hillcrest 0 7 7 0 -- 14

First quarter

V – Santiago Diaz 5 run (kick failed) 3:54

Second quarter

V – Diaz 2 run (Lincoln Marler pass from Casey Cope) 8:35

H – Demik Hatch 5 run (Aiden Zundel kick) 2:41

Third quarter

V – Diaz 1 run (Kendra Woods kick) 7:55

H – Tre Kofe 2 run (Zundel kick) :59

Fourth quarter

V – Casey Cope 1 run (Woods kick) 7:33

INDIVIDUAL STATS

RUSHING — Vallivue: Diaz 21-67, Cope 19-42, Camryn Deane 1-4. Hillcrest: Kofe 13-61, Keegan Porter 9-60, Hatch 13-10, Garrett Phippen 1-4, Tyler Schultz 3-(-6).

PASSING — Vallivue: Cope 7-12-1-167. Hillcrest: Phippen 1-3-1-21. Hatch 1-3-0-4.

RECEIVING — Vallivue: Lincoln Marler 5-131, Deane 1-34, Diaz 1-2. Hillcrest: Hatch 1-21, Porter 1-4.