’Cats come up short in upset bid, 14-6

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By Brian Langley



The old adage defense wins championships can also apply to rivalry games.

Coalfield used a hard-nosed defense to defeat long-time rival Oliver Springs 14-6 in the '2013 Brady Bowl' Friday night.

The Yellow Jackets (3-2, 2-0 in District 4-A) held the Bobcats to 52 rushing yards, six first downs, picked off three passes and limited PrepXtra rushing leader Eddie Stephenson, who entered the game with 716 yards, to 41 yards, to win the battle of the unbeatens in District 4-A.

"The defense played super. They played lights out tonight. To play four quarters of defense like we did against a team that had been averaging more than 40 points and a against back like (Eddie) Stephenson, who had been averaging nearly 200 yards a game, is incredible," said Coalfield head coach Keith Henry, who improved to 5-1 as head coach against Oliver Springs since taking over at Coalfield in 2008.

For the first time in the history of the series, Coalfield has won four straight over the Bobcats.

Coalfield used the legs of sophomore Andrew Clore, who rushed for a career-high 208 yards, to churn out 277 rushing yards and control the clock in the defensive battle, which featured six turnovers between the two rivals.

Coalfield used a 37-yard run by Clore on the third play of the game from scrimmage to get the Jackets down to the 10. Oliver Springs' Markus Miller scooped up a fumble on the very next play to thwart the drive.

Coalfield took their next drive and went 57 yards for what would be the only score the entire first half. Ryan Hill hit Zach Wilkins in the back of the end zone for an eight-yard scoring pass. Morgan Meredith added the extra point for a 7-0 lead with 4:20 left in the opening quarter.

Oliver Springs' Shawn Childress returned the ensuing kick 53 yards to get the Bobcats into Coalfield territory. The Jackets stepped up on defense and forced a turnover on downs after four plays.

Miller came up big again on defense for the Bobcats when he sacked Hill and forced a fumble for teammate Blake Taylor to recover at the O.S. 36.

After an exchange of punts, Coalfield's Wilkins intercepted a pass in Oliver Springs territory.

Another Miller sack forced Coalfield to punt the ball back, but Coalfield's Brett Keener intercepted a pass four plays later to get the ball back.

Coalfield ran three plays and then took a knee as the first half expired.

Oliver Springs, which was held to only one first down the first 24 minutes, came out to start the second half and marched 67 yards in nine plays to get on the board. Miller ripped off a 21-yard run to set up an 18-yard touchdown strike from Brandon Buck to Shelby Morgan. Dakota Miles missed the extra point to the left to keep the score 7-6 with 8:17 left in the third quarter.

"We knew they (Oliver Springs) wouldn't quit. We've watched them play hard on film and they're well coached. With the rivalry being what it is, we knew they wouldn't quit," said Henry.

Coalfield's Clore ripped off runs of 30 and 23 yards to help get the Jackets down to the five. Meredith was called on to attempt a 21-yard field goal, but the kick sailed left.

Coalfield's Peyton Tinker intercepted a pass late in the third quarter and the Jackets turned it into their second scoring drive of the game.

The Jackets went 60 yards, all on the ground, in nine plays to the end zone. Clore rushed for 43 yards, while Keener went the final four yards untouched on a 4th-and-two play. Meredith nailed the extra point to push the lead to 14-6 with 9:28 left in the game.

The Bobcats went on the attack and moved the chains a couple of times on the next drive, but Buck was sacked by Blake Hall on a fourth down play to end the threat.

Oliver Springs had one last chance, getting the ball back at their own 34 with 3:07 left. Coalfield's Zack Stewart sacked Buck on a third down play to force a 4th-and-13. Buck hit Anthony Woods for a 12-yard pass before he was knocked out of bounds one yard short of the marker by Clore.

The Jackets ran out the clock and took home a hard-earned 14-6 victory over Oliver Springs.

"I'm so proud of these young men. The adversity we faced and the injuries. We had a lot of guys step up that we had to put in an play. All our normal guys stepped it up and got after it tonight. There were lots and lots of bright spots," said Henry.

Coalfield held a 327-107 edge in total yards to improve to 3-0 on the road this season.

Coalfield's 277-yard rushing assault was led by Andrew Clore (24-208). John Irvin (4-33) and Brett Keener (4-26, 1 TD) had some big runs too. Ryan Hill was on target for 5 of 7 passes for 50 yards and a touchdown. Zach Wilkins (4-44, 1 TD) was the top target.

Oliver Springs was paced on offense by the 1-2 rushing attack of Eddie Stephenson (17-41) and Markus Miller (2-23). Brandon Buck was 9-16 for 55 yards with a touchdown and three interceptions through the air. Shelby Morgan (3-37, 1 TD) was the top receiver.

Coalfield and Oliver Springs (3-2, 1-1 in District 4-A) are both off this week.

Oliver Springs Statistics

Rushing- Stephenson 17-41, Miller 2-23, Childress 6-(-14), Buck 4-2.

Passing- Buck 9-16 for 55 yards with 1 TD and 3 Ints.

Receiving- Morgan 3-37 with 1 TD, Woods 3-14, Childress 2-4.