COAL GROVE — For the second consecutive week, a visiting Southern Ohio Conference Division II opponent took the sting out of the home-standing Coal Grove Hornets.
In the process, those SOC II squads produced nice bounce-back victories.
This time, the Portsmouth West Senators – on Friday night at LeMaster Stadium in Coal Grove – scored the final 14 points and pitched a second-half shutout, en route to defeating the Hornets 21-12 in a non-league tilt.
The Hornets erased an early 7-0 deficit by scoring a dozen straight over a span of almost 11 minutes, but the Senators answered the Hornets’ second touchdown with a nine-play, 60-yard, four-minute drive to take the lead at 15-12.
The Senators shut out the Hornets for the final 31 minutes and 46 seconds, and went up 21-12 following the opening series of the second half – a six-play, 61-yard drive that spanned 2:09.
For the Senators, which raised their record to 2-1, their road recovery from Friday night was exactly what they needed – after a difficult turnover-filled home loss last week against Portsmouth (48-28).
“This was our first road game of the year with a young team, so you never know how your kids are going to react when they face adversity. We had a good hard-working week of practice, we played well tonight, and our kids did an outstanding job of persevering and bouncing back and coming back and getting this one,” said Portsmouth West coach Ben Johnson. “We’ve had some trouble holding on to the ball this year.”
Instead, it was the Senators sparking turnovers this week, forcing Coal Grove quarterback Cory Borders into three interceptions and only 24 yards on 3-of-8 passing.
Johnson said INTs were a point of emphasis.
“We talked before the game that we hadn’t had any interceptions yet this year,” he said. “We wanted to improve in our pass coverage.”
But actually, the entire West defense did its job, especially over the final 26 minutes.
The Hornets had just 48 second-half yards – with Coal Grove’s final five possessions resulting in the three interceptions, a turnover on downs after a 10-play drive, and a punt following a three-and-out series.
Meanwhile, West – with a 15-12 halftime lead – tacked on what turned out to be the only second-half score.
The Senators made it 21-12 just two minutes and 16 seconds into the third quarter – as William Journey’s gains of 23, 12 and four yards moved Portsmouth West from its own 39 to the Hornet 18.
Hunter Brown then took a well-executed inside counter trap to paydirt, scoring from 18 yards away.
The Senators punted on their next three possessions, including two three-and-outs, but their defense definitely didn’t allow the Hornets to have much of anything.
“We took the lead before halftime, which was huge to get momentum before halftime. We said if we shut them out in the second half, we have the lead and so that’s it. We came out after halftime and had a good drive and scored. The hard work that our guys put in with strength and conditioning showed as well,” said Johnson. “It doesn’t always work out that way, but the things we talked about at halftime, we came out and executed and got it done and got the win.
Journey, who paced the Senators and all rushers with 112 yards on 23 carries, crossed from three yards out to get Portsmouth West on the board at the 6:57 mark of the opening quarter.
West went exclusively to the ground on an eight-play, 60-yard drive, as Caleb Hazelbaker kicked the extra point for the 7-0 lead.
Austin Stapleton scampered his 67 yards right up the middle just 49 seconds later, then Austin Stormes scored to make it 12-7 with the failed PAT pass attempt at the 7:46 mark of the second stanza.
The Senators took the lead for good on the next possession, as Journey converted a 3rd-and-3 with a 4-yard pickup – before quarterback Luke Bradford scrambled for 19 yards to push Portsmouth West to the Coal Grove 25.
On 4th-and-12 at the 27, Bradford rolled left and threw across his body to Brown, who made the TD reception to make it 13-12.
Bradford then made a spectacular play on the successful two-point conversion attempt, as he rolled right and threw back left to an open Journey in the end zone.
“On that particular drive, Luke (Bradford) made several athletic plays. Just being an athlete,” said Johnson. “He made plays outside the original design of the play. It was huge to see him step up like that.”
From there, it was all West, as Brandon Anderson intercepted Borders to stop the Hornets’ final series of the half.
Bradford and Ryan Sissel secured the other two picks.
“To West’s credit, they made some plays on three balls thrown, and on a lot of plays tonight, Cory (Borders) was on the move,” said Coal Grove coach Jay Lucas. “West made good plays.”
West rushed for 215 yards on 49 carries out of primarily the I-formation, as Bradford completed 9-of-12 passes for 94 yards, including three to Brown for 35.
The Senators doubled up the Hornets in first downs, 20-10.
Coal Grove travels to South Point next week for the Ohio Valley Conference opener, while West also returns to the road – and returns to non-league action – next week at Wellston.
* * *
Portsmouth West 21, Coal Grove 12
West 7 8 6 0 – 21
Coal Grove 6 6 0 0 – 12
PW — William Journey, 3-yard run (Caleb Hazelbaker kick), 6:57, 1st (7-0 PW)
CG — Austin Stapleton, 67-yard run (run failed), 6:08, 1st (7-6 PW)
CG — Austin Stormes, 3-yard run (pass failed), 7:46, 2nd (12-7 CG)
PW — Hunter Brown, 27-yard pass from Luke Bradford (William Journey pass from Luke Bradford), 3:38, 2nd (15-12 PW)
PW — Hunter Brown, 18-yard run (kick failed), 9:44, 3rd (21-12 PW)
First downs 20 10
Plays from scrimmage 61 44
Rushes-yards 49-215 36-192
Passing yards 94 24
Total yards 309 216
Cmp-Att-Int. 9-12-0 3-8-3
Fumbles-lost 3-1 0-0
Penalties-yards 4-32 3-33
Punts-average 4-23.75 3-32.7
RUSHING —Portsmouth West: William Journey 23-112 TD, Mitchell Malnar 8-
51, Hunter Brown 8-39 TD, Luke Bradford 9-18, Team 1-(-5); Coal Grove: Austin Stormes 16-96 TD, Austin Stapleton 15-94 TD, Joe Abrams 2-4, Cory Borders 3-(-2)
PASSING — Portsmouth West: Luke Bradford 9-12-0-94 TD; Coal Grove: Cory Borders 3-8-3-24
RECEIVING — Portsmouth West: Hunter Brown 3-35 TD, CalebJourney 2-37, Mitchell Malnar 2-21, Brandon Anderson 1-6, William Journey 1-(-5); Coal Grove: Justin Hicks 1-11, Austin Stormes 1-9, Joe Abrams 1-4