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Defense ignites offense as Hornets rout LC

COAL GROVE — Even though the Coal Grove Hornets offense was in high gear, it was a defensive play that got them running.

A safety late in the first half led to another Coal Grove score that opened up some breathing room and sparked the Hornets to a season-opening 30-6 win over the Lawrence County (Ky.) Bulldogs Friday.

“The turning point of the game was the safety,” Hornets coach Dave Lucas said.

Leading 15-6 late in the first half, Coal Grove had a drive stall at the 2-yard line on a fourth down play.

But on the play, Tyler Branch tackled the Bulldogs Morgan Roberts in the end zone for a safety and it was 17-6 with 2:20 on the clock.

“Branch blew the play up and as soon as the quarterback touched the ball,” Lucas said.

Following the free kick, Coal Grove began its drive at the Lawrence County 34. Four plays later, Adam Bare powered to the goal line only to fumble the ball. However, quarterback Eric Davidson fell on the ball for a Coal Grove touchdown.

Neal Taylor kicked the extra point and it was 24-6 at the half.

“The defense stood tall during some situations. We held a very good offensive team to six points,” Lucas said.

The Bulldogs (0-2) went up 6-0 on a 12-yard run by Coty Roberts midway through the first quarter.

But the Hornets answered with a 70-yard, nine-play drive capped by Trent Blankenship’s 3-yard run. Taylor’s kick gave Coal Grove a 7-6 lead.

Blankenship bolted 43 yards for a touchdown early in the second quarter and Taylor ran for the conversion to make it 15-6.

Taking over for Justin Hyland who ran for 2,000 yards in each of the last two seasons, Blankenship finished the game with 220 yards on 19 carries.

“(Blankenship) ran extremely well. He did exactly what we wanted, as did all the other backs. They produced,” Lucas said. “The offensive line did a tremendous job.”

Coal Grove got its final touchdown with 8:02 left to play on a 28-yard pass from Davidson to Tyler Branch.

“Last year we were kind of sluggish. This year, we much more conditioned and much was due to our senior leadership during the summer, and all our kids are all older,” Lucas said.

Coal Grove racked up 386 total yards. Davidson was 3 of 4 passing for 100 yards, all to Tyler Branch.