WEST PORTSMOUTH — The Senators dug themselves an early 14-point hole and were never able to complete the comeback as West fell to the Coal Grove Hornets 14-9 Friday night.
West (1-2) relied heavily on its defense to slow down a Coal Grove attack who scored more than 40 points the previous week at Valley.
The Hornets, playing in just their second game of the season after sitting idle in week 1, only managed to total 226 yards on the night. Coal Grove (2-0) scored both of their touchdowns in the first 24 minutes of play.
The first score of the night came after Jacob Clark found his way into the endzone from 19 yards away. Then midway through the second quarter, the Hornets scored their other touchdown when Matty Cordle found Dylan Malone in the endzone, a 4-yard touchdown that gave Coal Grove a 14-0 lead — its biggest advantage of the night.
However, after celebrating their second score of the night, the Hornets were stifled the rest of the game as the Senators pitched a shutout.
“Our defense was outstanding, in the second half especially,” Senators coach Ben Johnson said. “The first half, they kind of had their way a little bit and kind of imposed their will on us. It wasn’t really anything schematically that needed to change, we just needed to play better.”
Offensively, the Senators didn’t find much open terrain and had nothing to show for the first two quarters, except a T.J. Hoggard 31-yard field goal.
However, in the second half, West knocked on the door several times but miscues once again kept the Senators from enjoying prosperity.
West finally reached the endzone in the fourth quarter. Senator quarterback Dylan Bradford rolled to his right and found Josh Berry behind the defense. Once Berry hauled in the pass, he made one Hornet defender miss as he raced toward the endzone on a 65-yard catch and run for the score.
“We didn’t really make any big adjustments, I think our guys just settled down a little bit,” Johnson said. “I think they got into the game a little more. I don’t know how to explain it but they seemed like they were a little shell shocked there in the first half. They definitely came out and played better in the second half.”
The Senators had an opportunity to win the game in the waning seconds but an incomplete pass on 4th down sealed their fate. Johnson was proud of this team’s work ethic against Coal Grove, but once again, three turnovers hurt West’s chances to pull out the victory.
“I can’t fault our effort at all,” Johnson said. “Our guys played their butts off and again, down to the last minutes, we had chances to win the game. Right now, we’re just inches away from taking that next step and getting that game-winning play. I’m proud of the way the guys played. They played hard. We improved this week. Not as many mistakes, but we’re still making enough that it’s hurting us. We’ve just got to keep coming back, and grinding and getting better.”
Coal Grove — Clark 19 yd run (Jones kick), 1:39
Coal Grove — Malone 4 yd pass from Cordle (Jones kick), 6:02
West — Hoggard 31-yard field goal
West —Berry 65 yd pass from Bradford (conversion failed), 10:46
Rushing — Coal Grove: Clark 14-118, Rutherford 10-41, Henry 9-36, Cordle 14-16, Baldwin 7-11, Malone 1-8; West Lenogar 14-108, Berry 2-14, Staggs 1-1, Bradford 10-(-24).
Passing — Coal Grove: Cordle 5-12-36; West Bradford 7-13-153, Berry 0-1.
Receiving — Coal Grove: Rutherford 2-24, Clark 2-8, Malone 1-4; West Berry 2-68, Maynard 2-35, Carver 1-25, McCoy 1-22, Robinson 1-3.
Coal Grove 3-0; West 1-2.
Reach Chris Slone at 740-353-3101, ext 1930, or on Twitter @crslone.