LUCASVILLE – A fiery first half, a third-quarter stalemate, and a turnover-riddled fourth quarter spelled disappointment for the Valley Indians on Friday night as they hosted Coal Grove in week two. Opening the game with three straight scoring drives gave Valley the lead for nearly the entire game, but in the final five minutes the Hornets squeeked past the Indians, 21-20.
The Indians’ defense set a dominant tone in the game’s opening series, forcing a three-and-out by the Hornets. Senior running back Gabe Streeter quickly found the endzone on the first Valley possession, stringing together three first downs on four carries and 59 yards. The two-point conversion failed, and Valley led 6-0 at 8:09 in the first quarter.
“We were able establish the line of scrimmage” Valley coach Darren Crabtree said, “Gabe (Streeter) was making some nice runs, along with (Kayden) Mollette. We were able to move the ball quite well on the ground and got up to a nice lead, scoring on the first three possessions.”
Coal Grove penalties and a sack by Valley’s Cody Spence gave the Indians another opportunity to strike after a Hornets’ punt. This time Streeter, Mollette, and quarterback Andrew Shope would march the Indians 65 yards on a mixture of options and sweeps plus a 23-yard screen play from Shope to Mollette. Streeter finished the drive on an eight-yard sweep to the left as the sun set in Lucasville. The scoreboard lit up 14-0 after Shope converted the two point conversion himself.
Early in the second quarter, Coal Grove had no luck against another outstanding defensive stance by Valley. The Hornets needed three yards on a fourth down attempt at midfield and a whole host of Indians dropped Coal Grove quarterback Evan Harmon for a turnover on downs. Valley was led in tackles by Tyler Mitchell (10), Streeter and Mollette (8 each) and held Coal Grove to 210 yards of total offense for the game.
The home team’s momentum continued on their third possession as Streeter broke off a 32-yard run soon followed by a Shope to Tyler Mitchell touchdown pass of 14 yards. A failed two-point conversion put Valley ahead 20-0 with 7:40 to go in the first half.
The Hornets responded with some offensive fireworks of their own to finish and put the Indians on their heels at halftime. Harmon threw for 53-yards including a 12-yard fourth down completion and an eight-yard touchdown pass to Aaron Music, bringing the score to 20-8. Then the Hornets followed that with a quick strike on the legs of Harmon, bringing the score to 20-14 at halftime.
“With a team like Coal Grove, if you give some opportunities like we did, and they score on the last two possessions of the half, even though we are ahead at halftime, obviously momentum has completely switched back to their side,” said Crabtree.
To open the second half, Valley drove the ball effectively for three first downs and seemed to be on the doorstep of another score until a fumble at the 20-yard line, recovered by Coal Grove. The Indians continued the turnover trend for the duration of the game. Their next possession ended in an interception on an attempted halfback pass.
“It was a crazy game, start to finish. To go down right off the bat, 20-0,” Coal Grove coach Evan Ferguson said, “Our kids had a no quit attitude and we came together as a team. That’s great to have in week two.”
Coal Grove took that determined attitude on a 71-yard drive in the fourth quarter, eating up clock and the Indians’ lead. Harmon and Kyle Sites picked apart the Valley defense until Sites punched through for a game-tying touchdown with 5:32 to play. A successful PAT gave the Hornets the 21-20 advantage.
Valley ended the game on four-straight turnovers in a roller coaster ride of a final quarter.
“Defensively, from where we were last week, the way we came out and played tonight – I’m very pleased with that. I’m not happy with the touchdown they scored at the end of the game. That was a time we needed to get a defensive stop and couldn’t come up with one. It hurts when you lose games like that… turnovers ultimately were a big factor. Our effort and execution defensively was much better. A couple plays here and there, obviously, it could have been a different game,” Crabtree said following his team’s second loss to open the season.
Streeter compiled a total of 193 rushing yards on 20 carries while Mollette and Shope rushed for 29 and 25 yards, respectively. The Indians will travel to Piketon next week in search of their first win of the season.
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT