Coal Grove football
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Tyler Harris

Tyler is a contributing writer for SOSA with previous work for the Chillicothe Gazette. He resides in Ashland, Ky., bleeds Maize and Blue (Go Blue), is an avid outdoorsman and is always up for a good sports debate.

Dominant run game leads Coal Grove past Chesapeake, to fourth win

Three Hornets had 70 or more rushing yards in the win.

Tyler Harris, Staff Writer

Southern Ohio Sports Authority is presented by OhioHealth.

COAL GROVE — There are a lot of glamour positions in football.

The quarterback throws all the touchdowns, running backs gain all the yards, wide receivers get to show off their speed.

Coal Grove’s Whyatt Mannon throws a pass during Friday’s win over Chesapeake.
CREDIT: Baylee Harris/SOSA

But for Coal Grove, it’s all about the big boys up front.

Head coach Jay Lucas had high praise for his offensive line on Friday, a unit that quite literally paved the way to a 44-30 victory over arch rival Chesapeake.

“A lot of those guys are two and three-year starters and they work hard,” Lucas said. “They do a great job moving people off the line of scrimmage and opening holes for us. It’s a great group of guys.”

Moving people off the line is an understatement. They wore down the Panthers through four quarters to the tune of 44 points and scores on six of eight drives throughout the game.

But the offensive line can only do the blocking. The Hornets’ stable of running backs took care of the rest. Kaden Murphy, Gavin Gipson and Caden Turner racked up nearly 300 yards on the ground.

It didn’t start out like it was going to be a dominant rushing attack, but after they settled in, the Hornets (4-1, 1-1 OVC) never looked back.

The fireworks started when Hornets quarterback Whyatt Mannon found a seam in the Panthers’ defense and walked in for a 15-yard score, making it 8-0 early. Kaden Murphy then dazzled the crowd, cutting all the way back across the field for a 49-yard scamper, which pushed the lead to 16-0. 

PHOTOS: Images from Coal Grove’s win over Chesapeake

Coal Grove’s offense was gelling early, but the defense had trouble all night with self-inflicted wounds. It showed when a bizarre pass interference call kept a Panther drive alive, allowing Jacob Harris to find Phillip Thacker for a 14-yard score, cutting the deficit to 16-8.

On the ensuing drive, Chesapeake looked to have a chance to steal some momentum. The Hornets ran a rare pass play and the crowd held its breath as the pass was deflected straight up into the air. In what seemed like slow motion, Murphy came out of nowhere, plucked it out of the air and galloped untouched for a 31-yard score, closing the half with Coal Grove holding a 24-8 advantage.

But just when it seemed like the Hornets were in firm control, Chesapeake (3-2, 0-2 OVC) came out of halftime swinging. The Panthers pieced together an impressive 10-play, 71-yard drive, capped by Camron Shockley from two yards out to makt it a one-score game at 24-16.

In order to respond, Coal Grove went back to the drawing board and settled in behind their experienced offensive line. They led the way, and in 11 plays, once again stretched the gap wider, this time on the legs of Caden Turner and Gavin Gipson, who punched in his first score to make it 30-16.

“Those guys feed well off of each other,” Lucas said of his stable of backs. “We’ve got a lot of guys who we feel comfortable giving the ball to. They made some effort plays tonight to get extra yards on the perimeter and we’re really proud of all of them.” 

Just when things seemed to be in hand, an untimely face mask penalty set up Chesapeake at the Hornets’ 29-yard line before Shockley found the end zone again, creating a one-score game at 30-22 and putting some life back into his sideline.

But right on cue, the Hornets’ big men got the job done and Caden Turner began punishing Chesapeake’s defense, setting up his fellow back, Murphy, for an eight-yard touchdown to extend the lead to 36-22.

Later, Chesapeake took advantage of a forced turnover and closed the gap to 36-30 when Thacker took the rock across the goal line for his second touchdown of the night.

But that’s when Lucas leaned on his team’s experience to close out their rival.

“This group has been there before. Last year, in the playoffs, and this year against Meigs,” Lucas said, “These kids are resilient. They can build off what they have done in the past and use that to get the job done.”

The experience came through in spades as the Hornets marched their way down the field, methodically. Gipson dove across the line one more time, from four yards out, to put a cap on a 44-30 victory.

Coal Grove was led offensively by Murphy, who had 26 carries for 145 yards and two scores alongside 62 receiving yards and a touchdown. Gipson followed with 79 rushing yards of his own and two trips to pay dirt while Turner chipped in 72 yards on the ground. Mannon also scored a touchdown for the Hornets. 

Chesapeake was led by their do-it-all back, Camron Shockley, who racked up 141 total yards and two touchdowns. Thacker was efficient, picking up rushing and receiving touchdowns, and Harris was a tidy 9-for-13 passing for 83 yards and a touchdown.

Coal Grove will look to continue building momentum next week at Portsmouth while the Panthers host Ironton.


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