PDT Sports Writer
LUCASVILLE — Low-scoring contests were something Valley fans had become accustomed to in its final two regular season games.
Scoring a combined 16 points in Weeks and 10 to claim the SOC II title, Saturday’s contest with No. 8 Coal Grove seemed destined to be heading in that direction when the two teams went into the locker room. That’s when the No. 1 seed and host Indians flipped the script, scoring 27 points in the third quarter alone—14 of them coming off a pair of Hornet turnovers—to rout Coal Grove 41-16 in a Division V, Region 19 Quarterfinal.
“I think our kids responded well,” Valley coach Darren Crabtree said. “A lot of these kids are starting in their first playoff game and they were a little tight. After that I thought we really responded offensively in the second half.”
The Hornets (6-4) wanted to exact revenge from their Week 3 encounter in Lucasville, where the Indians won 34-18. They took the first steps in doing so on their opening drive of the game with a 16-play, 66-yard drive that was capped off by a Brandon Hogsten five-yard run and a successful two-point conversion from quarterback Alex Bare to Isaiah Gunther.
“They came out and took it to us,” Crabtree said. “They were two tight and just pounding us up front. They put up a great drive.”
Despite going three-and-out on its rebuttal, Valley caught a break when Cole Delotell recovered a Gunther fumble late in the first. The turnover would result into second quarter points when Nate Arnett scored on a 19-yard run to make it 8-6 after a failed PAT.
The Indians (11-0) took the only lead they needed late in the half thanks to a 10-yard pass from Will Howard to Matt Rawlins. Howard ran in the conversion to give Valley a six-point lead at intermission and with possession of the ball to start the third quarter.
“They didn’t panic and as a coaching staff, we’ve been here before,” Crabtree said in reference towards his team. “We felt like there were some things we could do offensively that we didn’t get done in the first half.”
With momentum on their side, the Indians increased its lead to 21-8 in the early stages of the third with Howard’s second touchdown strike of the night. This time, he found Arnett for a 15-yard score.
On the ensuing kickoff, Bryce Romanello’s squib kick ventured beyond a few lines of the Coal Grove return team and Matt Hodge jumped on the loose pigskin. The turnover turned into points two plays later when Howard decided to bull doze his way in for a 4-yard touchdown. It was the team’s second score in a span of 14 seconds.
Despite fumbling on its next offensive series, Valley tacked on another score in the frame when Howard threw a dart to Hayden Dunn in the end zone. To put the final nail in the coffin that period, Delotell recovered a Hogsten fumble for the final 28 yards towards pay dirt. The final two touchdowns were 54 seconds apart.
With many of the reserves in for the fourth quarter, Bare closed the night’s scoring with a 72-yard run. But at that point, the Indian faithful could focus its attention towards No. 4 Bucyrus Wynford (9-2) in next weekend’s semifinal. The Royals, which ended Valley’s run 54-48 in overtime for the last year’s Region 19 championship, shut out No. 5 Loudonville (8-3) 24-0.
“I never thought that would probably happen this year but we’ll take our chances,” Crabtree said. “We’ve played some good football teams down the line here, we played well tonight and we know we’ll have our hands full next week.”
Arnett led the Indians with 107 yards rushing on 10 carries while Howard was 6-of-8 passing for 85 yards. Bare had 127 yards on 14 carries to lead all rushers.
“After their first drive, we really did a nice job of shutting them down,” Crabtree said. “We knew or we thought that we knew that we could put some points up (against) some things they were doing.”
Cody Leist can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 294, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Coal Grove 8 0 0 8 — 16
Valley 0 14 27 0 — 41
CG—Hogsten 5 run (Gunther pass from Bare) 4:42
LV—Arnett 19 run (kick failed) 11:11
LV—Rawlins 10 pass from W. Howard (W. Howard rush) :52.7
LV—Arnett 15 pass from W. Howard (Romanello kick) 9:56
LV—W. Howard 4run (Romanello kick) 9:42
LV—Dunn 3 pass from W. Howard (kick failed) 2:14
LV—C. Delotell 28 fumble recovery (Romanello kick) 1:18
CG—Bare 72 run (Estep rush) 4:32
Coal Grove Valley
First Downs 12 17
Rush Att.-Yds 45-201 38-239
Pass Att.-Comp.-Int. 13-7-0 8-6-0
Pass Yds. 78 85
Total Yds. 279 324
Fumbles-Lost 3-3 2-2
Turnovers 3 2
Penalties-Yds. 5-50 2-20
Punts-Avg. 2-34.5 2-37.0
RUSHING: Coal Grove—Bare 14-127, Estep 15-34, Hogsten 9-29, Murphy 3-9, Gunther 6-2;Valley—Arnett 10-107, Rawlins 4-50, W. Howard 9-46, B. Howard 5-17, Bri. Jordan 4-13, J. Delotell 2-7, Bra. Jordan 2-3, TEAM 2-(-4).
PASSING: Coal Grove—Bare 13-7-0 78; Valley—W. Howard 8-6-0 85.
RECEIVING: Coal Grove—Markins 3-35, Gunther 3-34, Estep 1-9; Valley—Clark-Holbrook 2-53, Arnett 1-15, Rawlins 1-10, Dunn 2-7.
RECORDS: Coal Grove 6-4; Valley 11-0.