Panthers can’t stop error-free Red Devils
By JIM WALKER
Tribune Sports Editor
ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Chesapeake Panthers’ coach Andy Clark kept waiting for that one mistake.
It never came.
While the Panthers kept chewing up real estate with a powerful running game, the St. Clairsville Red Devils played an almost flawless offensive game and escaped with a 30-27 win on Saturday in the Division IV Region 15 quarterfinals.
“We gave up 30 points and you might say we didn’t play good defense, but we really did. We held them under their averages. They just didn’t make any mistakes on offense,” said Clark.
“We made them earn everything on offense. Give them credit. They made plays when they had to and they took advantage of our turnovers. We beat them everywhere but on the scoreboard.”
The turnovers were two fumbles, the second setting up the winning field goal by Zach Musili as time expired.
The Panthers were called for a questionable fumble at the 47-yard line and St. Clairsville recovered. A key 33-yard pass to Michael Ferns on a fourth down play got the ball to the 14-yard line with eight seconds left and Musili’s kick decided the outcome.
“We get a first down on a third down play and fumble. They convert a fourth down play and kick the field goal. That’s how it went all night,” said Clark.
Chesapeake (7-4) racked up 405 total yards including 358 on the ground. Patrick Hintz had 121 yards on 22 carries and quarterback Austin McMaster added 116 on 13 attempts. McMaster was also 2 of 4 passing for 47 yards.
“Our offensive line did a great job. We won the line game but we lost the turnovers,” said Clark.
The Red Devils had 264 total yards, well below the nearly 500 yards per game they averaged during the regular season.
Quarterback Matt Kinnick was 12 of 24 for 171 yards and two touchdowns and he ran 11 times for 47 yards.
The game was scoreless after the first quarter but the Panthers then went on a 99-yard, 15-play drive capped by McMaster’s 5-yard run.
Chesapeake held and then went on a 60-yard, 11-play march with Hintz scoring on an 11-yard run with just 40 seconds left in the half. Nate Jones ran for the conversion and it was 14-0.
But Ferns returned the kickoff 56 yards to the Panthers’ 7-yard line and Kinnick hit Jerrid Marhefka with a scoring pass and it was 14-7 at the break.
Chesapeake gained 199 yards in the first half to 44 for the Red Devils.
Ferns’ 9-yard scoring run tied the game to start the third quarter but the Panthers regained the lead on a 7-yard run by McMaster and it was 21-14.
The Red Devils tied the game again when Marhefka caught a 5-yard pass and turned it into a 51-yard touchdown play as the Panthers missed a tackle.
Hintz scored on a 2-yard run to cap a 77-yard, 17-play march and it was 27-21.
St. Clairsville tied the game at 27 on a 13-yard run by Ferns with less than two minutes to play and set up the thrilling finish.
Clark was disappointed with the loss, but he was pleased with his team’s effort all season especially against the Red Devils after suffering a tough 20-15 loss last week to Coal Grove.
“That’s a tough way to end the season. I was proud of the kids. They wanted another chance to prove themselves and they did. The kids played hard all season. I’m going to miss the senior class. They’ve been through a lot,” said Clark.
St. Clairsville (10-1) will now play Coshocton in the regional semifinals.
Chesapeake 0 14 7 6 = 27
St. Clairsville 0 7 14 9 = 30
Ch – Austin McMaster 5 run (kick blocked)
Ch – Patrick Hintz 11 run (Nate Jones run)
StC – Jerrid Marhefka 7 pass from Matt Kinnick (Zach Musili kick)
St.C –Michael Ferns 9 run (Zach Musili kick)
Ch – Austin McMaster 7 run (Jacob Wells kick)
St.C – Jerrid Marhefka 51 pass from Matt Kinnick (Zach Musili kick)
Ch – Patrick Hintz 2 run (kick failed)
St.C – Michael Ferns 13 run (kick failed)
St.C – Zach Musilli 34 field goal
First downs 21 18
Rushes-yards 63-358 23-93
Passing yards 47 171
Total yards 405 264
Cmp-Att-Int 2-4-0 12-24-0
Fumbles-lost 3-2 0-0
Penalties-yards 4-29 1-5
RUSHING–Chesapeake: Patrick Hintz 22-121, Austin McMaster 13-116, Nate Jones 11-40, Brandon Noble 15-68, Dylan Nichols 2-13; St. Clairsville: Matt Kinnick 11-49, Ben Evick 8-37, Michael Ferns 4-26.
PASSING–Chesapeake: Austin McMaster 2-4-0 47; St. Clairsville: Matt Kinnick 12-24-0 171.
RECEIVING–Chesapeake: Javon Thompson 1-40, Tommy Noble 1-7; St. Clairsville: Dan Monteroso 4-40, Jerrid Marhefka 2-63, Michael Ferns 3-60, Ben Evick 2-11, Chase Garan 1-minus 3.
MISSED FIELD GOAL: None.