CHESHIRE, Ohio —So close, and yet so far.
The River Valley football team was four minutes away from pulling off a colossal upset of Coal Grove Friday night, but the visiting Hornets ultimately spoiled Senior Night festivities with a late defensive stand to hold on for a 20-13 victory in a Week 8 Ohio Valley Conference matchup at Raider Field.
The Raiders (1-7, 0-3 OVC) trailed 14-0 after one quarter of play, but the hosts outscored CGHS 13-6 in the second half to pull within one possession with 11:16 left in regulation.
After coming up with consecutive stands defensively, the Raiders were looking at a potential game-winning drive when they took over possession at their own 20 with 3:58 remaining. River Valley marched the ball out to its own 41, but then a penalty left the hosts facing a fourth-and-nine at their own 36.
RVHS quarterback Austin Whobrey launched a deep ball intended for Austin Davies, but Jordan Beals deflected the pass before the ball reached Davies. The ball, however, bounced up in the air for a possible reception — but Davies was ultimately unable to haul in the pass.
The incompletion resulted in a loss of downs, giving Coal Grove possession at its own 36 with two minutes left. The Hornets grounded out one more first down, then ran out the clock with two kneels — allowing the guests to sneak away with a seven-point triumph.
CGHS wasted little time getting on the scoreboard, as Bryan Steele hauled in a 23-yard scoring pass from Alex Bare for an 8-0 advantage with 9:26 remaining in the opening period. The Hornets’ opening drive covered 58 yards in six plays and ate up 2:27.
After forcing a punt on the ensuing possession, Coal Grove put together an 11-play, 73-yard scoring drive for a 14-0 cushion with 20 seconds left in the opening canto. Greg Bender plunged in from two yards out, capping a 4:57 drive for the early two-possession lead. The score remained that way through the rest of the half.
Coal Grove held a 182-30 advantage in total yards at the break, including a 124-25 edge in first half rushing yards. CGHS had nine first downs and one punt before intermission, while the Raiders had two first downs and three punts.
Both teams traded possessions to start the second half, but the hosts made the most of their second possession in the third quarter — going 96 yards in four plays to pull within 14-7.
Trey Noble hauled in a deep pass from Whobrey that was deflected by two CGHS defenders, then Noble completed the 72-yard scoring strike by running untouched over the last 40 yards for a one possession contest at the 2:12 mark of the third quarter.
Coal Grove, however, responded with a four-play, 56-yard scoring drive to take a 20-7 advantage after Bender bullied his way in from two yards out with 37 seconds left in the canto.
River Valley returned the kickoff to the CGHS 45-yard line, then marched 45 yards in four plays to pull back to within seven points late in the fourth. Patrick Williams scampered 27 yards to paydirt with 11:16 remaining for a 20-13 contest.
Three consecutive drives resulted in punts after that, which led to the hosts final drive of the night with 3:58 left in regulation.
The Hornets outgained RVHS by a sizable 381-201 margin in total offense, and the guests also claimed an 18-7 edge in first downs. Neither team committed a turnover and there was a total of eight punts in the contest, five of which came from River Valley.
Coal Grove churned out 261 rushing yards on 50 attempts and had another 120 yards passing, while the Raiders had 86 rushing yards on 27 totes and another 115 passing yards. CGHS was flagged nine times for 71 yards, while River Valley was penalized seven times for 40 yards.
Bender led the Hornets with 122 rushing yards on 21 carries, followed by Kyle Estep with 81 yards on 16 tries. Alex Bare was 6-of-10 passing for 120 yards and a touchdown, while Steele led the wideouts with three catches for 85 yards and a score. Bender also had two rushing TDs in the victory.
Williams led the hosts with 95 rushing yards and a touchdown on 21 attempts. Whobrey completed 5-of-9 passes for 115 yards and a touchdown, while Noble hauled in two catches for 90 yards and a score.
Noble and the Raiders also had a 34-yard touchdown taken off the board with 11:01 left in the third quarter after an illegal block negated the score.
It was the final home game for seniors Trey Noble, William Bowman, Patrick Williams, Blake Burdette, Stephen Brown, Cody Holley, Adam Clagg, Jason Luckett and Travis Potter in the Silver and Black.
River Valley returns to action Friday when it travels to Pedro for a Week 9 OVC matchup against Rock Hill. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
Coal Grove 20, River Valley 13
CG14-0-6-0 — 20
RV0-0-7-6 — 13
CG — Bryan Steele 23 pass from Alex Bare (Kyle Estep run) 9:26
CG — Greg Bender 2 run (run failed) 0:20
RV — Trey Noble 72 pass from Austin Whobrey (Jacob Leach kick) 2:12
CG — Bender 2 run (pass failed) 0:37
RV — Patrick Williams 27 run (kick blocked) 11:16
First Downs: CG 18, RV 7.
Rushes-Yds: CG 50-261, RV 27-86.
Passing yds: CG 120, RV 115.
Total Yards: CG 381, RV 201.
Cmp-Att-Int: CG 6-10-0, RV 5-9-0 115.
Punts: CG 3, RV 5.
Fumbles-Lost: CG 1-0, RV 1-0.
Penalties-Yds.: CG 9-71, RV 7-40.
CG — Greg Bender 21-122, Kyle Estep 16-81, Alex Bare 10-40, Isaiah Gunther 2-21, Jordan Beals 1-(-3).
RV — Patrick Williams 21-95, Austin Whobrey 4-(-4), Trey Noble 2-(-5).
CG —Alex Bare 6-10-0 120.
RV — Austin Whobrey 5-9-0 115.
CG —Bryan Steele 3-85, Jordan Beals 3-35.
RV — Trey Noble 2-90, Ethan Dovenbarger 2-11, Austin Davies 1-14.