Valley hit the road Friday night to meet Coal Grove at Lemaster Stadium.
The weather made its presence felt in this contest, as a lightning delay with 5:45 remaining in the third quarter sent both teams to their respective locker rooms.
The Indians were able to climb out in front early, when Gabe Streeter returned an interception 35 yards for a touchdown with 5:40 left in the first quarter.
“That pick six was a great individual effort on his part,” Valley head coach Darren Crabtree said. “We expect him to be able to make those kind of plays.”
Penalties were an issue for the Hornets all night. Coal Grove had 14 penalties for over 100 yards, including a costly holding call that took a touchdown off the board and put the Hornets in a 3rd down and 20 from Valley’s 20 yard line in the drive following the Streeter touchdown.
Despite the penalty, Coal Grove was still able to answer. Quarterback Nate Harmon found receiver Jeb Jones for a 20 yard touchdown on what was an eight play, 69 yard drive early in the second quarter. A two point conversion on a run from Kyle Sites gave the Hornets an 8-7 lead with 9:49 left in the first half.
The yellow flags continued to pose a problem on Valley’s next drive following the Coal Grove touchdown. The Indians were able to get a huge first down after a pass interference call gave them a first down in what would have been a third down stand for the Hornets.
From there, Valley got a big play from quarterback Andrew Shope, who found Tanner Spradlin down the sideline to put the Indians in Coal Grove territory.
However, the drive stalled for Valley and the Indians faced a 4th down and 6 from the Hornet 26. After taking a timeout, Valley drew up a perfect play that had Coal Grove fooled.
Shope took the snap and handed off to freshman Andrew Andronis in what appeared to be a sweep. However, Andronis and the Indians had other things in mind.
Andronis saw Spradlin streaking down the sideline and hit him in stride. The extra point gave Valley a 14-8 lead with 5:49 left in the first half.
Coal Grove, though, was determined to take the lead into the locker room. The Hornets orchestrated an 8 play, 65 yard drive to tie things up with 28 seconds on the clock before halftime. Harmon found Sam Angelo for the touchdown catch from 25 yards out.
After the try for two points was snubbed by Valley, the score was tied at 14 apiece and it appeared that it would be a deadlock heading in to the break.
Yet, the Hornets had some tricks up their sleeve. In what was intended to be a kickoff, Coal Grove wound up hitting what appeared to be an onside kick and recovered it with less than 30 seconds remaining in the half.
The magic wasn’t done for the Hornets, as Harmon threw up a deep pass to Kyle Sites that looked to be an easy interception for Valley. Unfortunately for the Indians, the ball bounced right off the defender’s hand and into the grasp of Sites who took it in for an improbable 48 yard touchdown with just ten seconds remaining before halftime.
Harmon added a two point conversion on a keeper to put Coal Grove back on top, 22-14.
“We’re sitting there with two guys to intercept the pass and don’t make the play,” Crabtree said about the Harmon pass. “It ricochets off and they catch it and go in and score. That kind of took the wind out of our sails because we played so hard to get the lead.”
Coming out of halftime with a 22-14 advantage, Coal Grove got the ball and pieced together another long scoring drive. The Hornets were faced with a 3rd-and-8 in Valley territory, and Harmon kept it himself to score a 35 yard rushing touchdown. Harmon then found Angelo for the two point conversion, which gave Coal Grove a 30-14 lead with 6:40 left in the third quarter.
“Second half, they came out on the first possession and put together a nice drive and scored,” Crabtree said. “Our kids kept battling though. The effort, again, for our kids was there.”
The lightning delay came just under a minute later on what was set to be a 4th-and-7 from what would have been a three and out for the Indians.
30 minutes later after the delay was lifted, Valley faked the punt and converted the first down. The Indians looked to be playing with a restored energy and confidence, but were unable to cap off the drive with points to show for it.
Coal Grove was ready to close things out, and it looked like they were able to do so. Harmon found Angelo for a long touchdown pass, but it was called back due to pass interference. In the end, the Hornets turned the ball over at the Valley 41 on downs, giving the Indians prime field position.
Still down by two scores, the Indians kept the fight up. Valley put together a seven play, 61 yard drive that was finished off by a 51 yard Streeter reception from Shope.
The pass from Shope looked to be out of reach, but Streeter accelerated and broke free into the end zone after grabbing the ball out of the air.
Even Crabtree was impressed by Streeter’s wheels on the big touchdown catch. “I didn’t think there was any way he was going to get to it,” Crabtree said. “That showed his real speed there and he made a heck of a catch.”
With a chance to make it a one possession game, the Indians lined up for two. When Shope couldn’t find an open receiver, he tried to run it in for two points but came up a yard shy.
The scoreboard read 6:48 remaining in the game, with Coal Grove on top 30-20. Valley was unable to recover their onside kick attempt, which put them in a tough spot.
Time was running out at this point, and the Hornets were able to milk the clock down even further. An 8 play, 51 yard drive was concluded with a four yard Kimo Baldwin touchdown, and a Joey Workman two point conversion gave Coal Grove a three possession lead, 38-20, with just over two minutes remaining.
The score was enough to close the game out for the Hornets, who improved to 2-0 on the season with a 38-20 win over the Indians.
Valley is now 0-2 this year, but showed a lot of fight in a wild game on the road. “We’re still trying to get better,” Crabtree said. “Our kids are going to work hard to make that happen, and hopefully build off some of the success we had this evening.”
The Indians will host Piketon (1-1) next Friday night at home.
Reach Benjamin Spicer at (502)264-7318 or on Twitter @BSpicerPDT