Late touchdown lifts Martins Ferry over Indian Creek

WINTERSVILLE — Dave Bruney has been doing a lot of boasting lately about his team’s increased and steady maturity level.

He showed why those words were warranted Friday night.

Cory Bennett connected with Dalton Hoover for a 10-yard scoring strike with a little more than a minute left in the game, lifting the Purple Riders to a 14-10, come-from-behind triumph against Indian Creek inside Kettlewell Stadium.

The victory — Martins Ferry’s third straight — didn’t have the flashy offensive stats of the last two weeks. But, like its veteran coach has been preaching recently, his team has been looking toward what it can do, not looking back at what it didn’t.

“To have the opportunity to take the lead, after their last scoring threat (was thwarted) by penalties, lesser men would’ve folded,” Bruney said. They didn’t allow that to happen. I thought they continued to mature and just play every snap like it was the most important one. That’s the way we played.”

After being all but shut down offensively in the first half, the Purple Riders (4-3) came alive in the final quarter-and-a-half, culminating with the winning march.

Trailing 10-7 with the ball at its own 20, Martins Ferry used eight plays to reach midfield, including a pair of 8-yard passes from Jacob Probst to Shaun Jeter. Faced with 3rd-and-2 at the 50, Probst burst up the middle for 19 yards to the 31.

Two plays later, Probst connected with Bennett for 13 yards, but it became a 22-yard gain to the 8 following a personal foul call on Creek.

Moments later and facing 3rd-and-goal, Hoover, in the wildcat formation, handed off to Bennett who found a wide-open Hoover streaking down the left sideline for the score. Cody Olson’s extra point gave the Purple Riders a four-point lead with 1:06 left.

“We executed it and got it in,” a smiling Bruney said. “Then, we had to play good defense against a team that wasn’t ready to quit, either.”

The Redskins (4-3) had good success passing the ball all night, including the game’s opening score — a 63-yard bomb from Brennon Norris to Devin Eakle — early in the first quarter.

Starting at its own 6, Norris completed 6-of-7 passes to get to its own 48. Then he connected with Devon Eakle for 28 yards to the Ferry 24 with 8.8 seconds left. However, on first down, the Redskins fumbled and Ferry recovered ending the threat.

“I think when you have momentum on your side you have to seize the moment, and we let it slip away from us,” Indian Creek head coach Andrew Connor said. “Once we got into a battle with them, they’re a good team, and when you let a good team get that momentum from you, it’s tough to get it back.

“I’ll give my kids credit. They went down and had a chance. All I can ask as a head coach is for them to play as hard as they can. Things just didn’t work out for us.”

A bad Creek punt late in the third quarter opened the door for the Purple Riders, setting them up at the Redskins’ 21. Probst scored five plays later, making it a 10-7 with 43.5 ticks left in the third quarter.

Two plays into the Redskins’ ensuing possession, Bennett picked off Norris — he had two on the night — putting the Purple Riders in business again. Indian Creek turned the ball over four times, to Ferry’s none.

After driving all the way to the 3, a series of penalties and losses forced a field goal try, which was missed.

Ferry’s defense held again, setting up the winning drive.

“We just keep practicing hard and making big plays,” Bruney said.

The victory against a Division III foe, coupled with contests against Wheeling Central, Beaver Local and Bellaire to finish out the season, the Purple Riders remain alive for a postseason bid in Division V, Region 19

“I think it’s a testament to our players and to our senior class; there’s not that many of them,” Bruney said. “But, by God, they just kept believing in each other and working hard. To come on the road and get a win against a quality team down two scores at the half is great.”

Indian Creek hosts Beaver Local next Friday.

Martins Ferry 14, Indian Creek 10

Martins Ferry 0-0-7-7 — 14

Indian Creek 7-3-0-0 — 10

I — Devi.Eakle 63 pass from Norris (Hiles kick), 9:36

I — FG 26 Hiles, 8:59

M — Probst 1 run (Co.Olson kick), 43.5

M — Hoover 10 pass from C.Bennett (Co.Olson kick), 1:06

RUSHING: Martins Ferry 36-85-1 (Hoover 19-38, Ca.Olson 2-4, Probst 11-23-1, C.Bennett 1-(-10), Prayear 3-30); Indian Creek 33-91 (Hopkins 2-11, Fante 19-85, Norris 5-(-1), Blair 5-3; TEAM 2-(-7)).

PASSING: Martins Ferry 11-28-134-1-0 (Probst 10-27-124, C.Bennett 1-1-10-1-0); Indian Creek 18-25-236-1-2 (all by Norris).

RECIEVING: Martins Ferry (Dobson 1-35; Goddard 1-14, Jeter 4-38, C.Bennett 3-26, Hores 1-10, Hoover 1-10-1); Indian Creek (Devi.Eakle 5-104-td, Mazar 3-23, Devo.Eakle 8-88, Der.Eakle 1-14, Robinson 1-7).

FIRST DOWNS: Martins Ferry 12; Indian Creek 18.

FUMBLES-LOST: Martins Ferry 0-0; Indian Creek 3-2.

PENALTIES: Martins Ferry 9-78; Indian Creek 10-66.