Panthers roar into playoffs
COAL GROVE — Big plays and big defense gave the Chesapeake Panthers a big win.
The Panthers used two long scoring plays on offense, a long interception return and a punt return for touchdowns as they beat the Coal Grove Hornets 34-6 on Friday in an Ohio Valley Conference game.
The win gave the Panthers an 8-2 record including 4-2 in the OVC, good enough for a share of second place with Coal Grove.
Chesapeake also regained possession of The Little Brown Jug trophy and — more importantly — earned a berth in the Division V Region 21 postseason playoffs.
The Panthers’ 8-win total was the most since 2004.
“You want to play for a conference championship and to get in the playoffs. In weeks eight, nine and 10 we were playing for at least one of those things and that’s where you want to be,” said Panthers’ coach Andy Clark.
The Panthers had 301 total yards with 226 coming on the ground. Quarterback Casey McComas ran seven times for 58 yards and completed his only passing attempt to J.W. Bartrum for a 75-yard touchdown play.
Cecil Fletcher — who broke his foot in the preseason — returned and ran four times for 62 yards including a 56-yard touchdown scamper.
Coal Grove (5-5, 4-2) was held to 178 total yards — 144 rushing and 34 passing. While Chesapeake lost four fumbles, the Hornets suffered three interceptions of which one was returned for a touchdown.
“We played defense pretty well the whole game. Offensively we played well but we turned it over too many times. I’m not happy about that,” said Panthers’ coach Andy Clark.
Kimo Baldwin ran 14 times for 57 yards to lead the Hornets.
The Panthers took a 6-0 lead on a 6-yard scoring run by Ty Wilcoxon at the 6:11 mark of the first quarter.
The lead went to 13-0 on the 75-yard McComas to Bartrum pass.
Less than three minutes later, Fletcher ran 56 yards for a score and it was 20-0 at the half.
Shamarr Morris took over with the big plays in the second half.
First, he picked off a pass and returned it 76 yards for a touchdown and it was 27-0.
Coal Grove recovered a fumbled at the Chesapeake 28 and Ranze Large scored two plays later and it was 27-6.
But a shanked punt off the side of the foot feel into the lap of Morris who caught it in the flats and returned it 41 yards for a touchdown and it was 34-6 with 3:50 to play.
Chesapeake is expected to play at Lucasville Valley at 7 p.m. on Saturday.
Chesapeake 6 14 7 7 = 34
Coal Grove 0 0 6 0 = 6
Ch — Ty Wilcoxon 6 run (kick blocked) 6:11
Ch — J.W. Bartrum 75 pass from Casey McComas (Wesley Stephens kick) 8:35
Ch — Cecil Fletcher 56 run (Wesley Stephens kick) 6:44
Ch — Shamarr Morris 76 interception return (Wesley Stephens kick) 9:18
CG — Ranze Large 18 run (kick failed) 3:59
Ch — Shamarr Morris 41 punt return (Wesley Stephens kick) 3:50
First downs 11 10
Rushes-yards 37-226 46-144
Passing yards 75 34
Total yards 301 178
Cmp-Att-Int 1-1-0 2-7-3
Fumbles-lost 4-4 0-0
Penalties-yards 4-35 5-41
Punts-average 1-28.0 7-34.1
RUSHING —Chesapeake: Casey McComas 7-58, Maccoy Brown 7-26, J.W. Bartrum 5-16, Ty Wilcoxon 6-28, Will Scott 6-40, Cecil Fletcher 4-62, Austin Browning 1-1, team 3-minus 4; Coal Grove: Jacob Clark 3-6, Tanner Henry 9-21, Daniel Rutherford 11-24, Kimo Baldwin 14-57, Tanner Dolen 3-9, Ranze Large 4-23, Isaac Howard 2-4.
PASSING — Chesapeake: Casey McComas 1-1-0 74 TD; Coal Grove: Matty Cordle 2-4-2 34, Daniel Rutherford 0-2-1, Tanner Dolen 0-1-0.
RECEIVING — Chesapeake: J.W. Bartrum 1-74 TD; Coal Grove: Sam Angelo 1-12, Daniel Rutherford 1-22.