Coal Grove endures comeback efforts from West Jefferson to advance to the Regional Semifinals

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COAL GROVE, Ohio (WOUB) — The stage was set at Patterson Field for the Coal Grove Hornets to host the West Jefferson Roughriders in the second round of the OHSAA playoffs.

The first drive of the game proved fruitful for the Hornets with Kaden Murphy leading the swarm. His rushing game carried Coal Grove down the field and into the end zone, giving them the early lead.

Coal Grove’s defense came off the sideline with momentum on their side, giving West Jefferson no choice but to punt the ball after attempting to rush. Steven Simpson’s 40-yard run set Murphy up beautifully for his second touchdown of the night.

West Jefferson is finally able to stop Coal Grove in their next drive, only to hand momentum immediately back over with a fumble recovery by Murphy. The Hornet offense, led by Chase Hall, barrels down the field for yet another touchdown.

Hungry for some points of their own, the Roughriders made use of Tanner Salyers’ rushing ability to carry the team down the field. It was ultimately Ethan Hostetler who secured their first touchdown of the game after a 16-yard run.

West Jefferson reached the energy of Coal Grove coming out the locker room, making key plays on the defensive side of the ball to stop Hall and his offense. They only allowed one touchdown by Hall during the third quarter but helped dig out their deficit using the hands of Luke Taylor for a touchdown of their own.

The Roughriders rode into the fourth quarter a different team. Their special teams unit performed flawlessly in four separate onside kicks, giving quarterback Austin Buescher plenty of playtime for his offense.

Buescher connected with Mason Book for two touchdowns, all of which were double digits in passing yards. Another connection with Tanner Salyer set the Roughriders within one score of the Hornets, and a final touchdown by Book brought them to the lead for the first time in the game, 40 to 39.

With a couple minutes left on the clock and momentum clearly on the side of the Roughriders, Coal Grove needed to change their headspace and seal the deal. They took advantage of West Jefferson not continuing their offside kick streak, and Hall made a 33-yard run in for the final score of the game.

Coal Grove playing this game entirely on the ground was an impressive tactic that was key to their success. Hall led his offense, carrying 305 yards out of Coal Grove’s 417 total yards.

Another key factor that set Coal Grove ahead were the sneaky skills of Murphy. Murphy capitalized on two separate occasions for the Hornets, which was just enough to send them buzzing straight into the regional semifinals. 

Coal Grove finished this matchup ahead of West Jefferson, 47-40. With this high-scoring game under their belt, the Hornets must be ready to take on the number 1 seed in the region, Fort Frye, in the regional semifinals.