COAL GROVE — With less than six minutes to play, the Coal Grove Hornets appeared to be in the driver’s seat.
But then the seat belt came unbuckled and the Hornets were carjacked as the Minford Falcons rallied to squeeze out a 31-28 win Friday in a battle of unbeatens.
Hornets’ coach Dave Lucas said the turning point wasn’t a play that was made, but rather a play that wasn’t.
With a 28-25 lead and the ball, the Hornets couldn’t get a first down in an attempt to run out the clock.
“We had the ball and didn’t get a first down. We needed to respond and we didn’t. I think that was the turning point,” said Lucas.
Coal Grove went up 28-18 with 5:38 to play on a 4-yard run by Frank Delawder who also ran for the conversion.
But Minford used a long kickoff return to set up a quick two-play drive that ended on a 30-yard scoring pass from Aaron Oesch to Brandon McCormick. Jacob Hackworth’s conversion kick made it 28-25 with 4:15 left.
The Hornets were forced to a three-and-out and Minford went on a 53-yard, seven-play drive capped by Matt Slone’s 5-yard scoring run with just 49 seconds to play.
Quarterback Evan Ferguson tried a long “Hail Mary” pass for the Hornets that just failed and allowed Minford to escape with the win.
“The kids played hard, real hard. Our kids made some plays, but I guess it just wasn’t meant to be. I thought both teams played extremely hard and very intense the whole time,” said Lucas.
Oakie Haynes gave the Hornets an electrifying start as he went 89 yards for a touchdown on the opening kickoff for a 6-0 lead. It was the second straight week the Hornets returned their first kickoff for a touchdown.
Hackworth kicked a 27-yard field goal to make it 6-3, but Ferguson ran 2 yards for a touchdown just before the end of the first quarter and it was 12-3.
Hackworth added another field goal at the start of the second quarter to make it 12-6, but the Hornets pushed the lead to 20-6 on a 1-yard run by Bubba Wood and Ferguson’s conversion pass to Haynes with 1:04 on the clock.
Minford scored with just 30 seconds left in the third quarter and cut the deficit to 20-12 only to have Delawder’s run open up a 10-point lead.
Coal Grove finished with 150 yards on the ground, but just 54 in the second half.
“Our execution wasn’t as good in the second half. We missed some assignments and that hurt us,” said Lucas.
Minford 3 9 6 13 = 31
Coal Grove 12 8 0 8 = 28
CG — Oakie Haynes 89 kickoff return (run failed) 11:48
Min — Jacob Hackworth 27 field goal 7:03
CG — Evan Ferguson 2 run (pass failed) 1:58
Min — Jacob Hackworth 23 field goal 11:06
CG — Bubba Wood 1 run (Oakie Haynes pass from Evan Ferguson) 1:04
Min — Ray Bryan 7 run (kick failed) 0:30
Min — Brandon McCormick 20 run (run failed) 9:41
CG — Frank Delawder 4 run (Delawder run) 5:38
Min — Brandon McCormick 30 pass from Aaron Oesch (Jacob Hackworth kick) 4:15
Min — Matt Slone 5 run (kick failed) 0:49
First downs 13 14
Rushes-yards 36-207 43-150
Passing yards 106 95
Total yards 313 245
Cmp-Att-Int 6-9-1 8-12-0
Fumbles-lost 1-0 1-0
Penalties-yards 2-30 5-30
RUSHING—Minford: Ray Bryan 13-91, Brandon McCormick 8-56, Aaron Oesch 4-36, Matt Slone 11-24; Coal Grove: Oakie Haynes 17-64, Evan Ferguson 8-34, Frank Delawder 9-32, Bubba Wood 5-19, Dion Cunningham 1-6, Boo Woods 2-4, Jake Murphy 1-minus 9.
PASSING—Minford: Aaron Oesch 6-9-1 106. Coal Grove: Evan Ferguson 8-12-0 95.
RECEIVING—Minford: Cory McKnight 2-40, Brandon McCormick 2-39, Brett Taylor 1-16, Stefan Price 1-11. Coal Grove: Oakie Haynes 3-21, Jake Murphy 2-27, Aaron Dickess 1-32, Shawn Morrison 1-11, Boo Woods 1-4.