Chesapeake upsets Coal Grove for homecoming win
CHESAPEAKE — Chesapeake snapped Coal Grove’s eight-game Ohio Valley Conference football winning streak Friday with a 35-28 victory at Phil Davis Field.
The win by the Panthers (3-2,1-1) was on Homecoming and marked the return of the Little Brown Jug traveling trophy to Chesapeake High School’s trophy case for the first time since 2016.
Coal Grove quarterback Nate Harmon reeled off a 57-yard touchdown in the third quarter, but was limited to just two carries in the game. Chesapeake quarterback Austin Browning carried the ball more, but was also a limited factor on offense after Coal Grove bottled him up most of the night.
Chesapeake struck first with a game-opening drive of 10 plays for 75 yards that ended with Will Todd finding the end zone on a 2-yard rush for an early 7-0 lead.
The Panthers then made a big defensive stand, holding the Hornets to a three-and-out before marching to the Coal Grove 36-yard line and punting. The two drives by Chesapeake milked most of the first quarter clock leaving Coal Grove head coach Evan Ferguson to figure out a way to get his team on the scoreboard.
His answer came from 5-10 220-pound sophomore running back Austin Stapleton.
Stapleton needed only three carries straight up the middle against an undersized Chesapeake defensive line to give the Hornets three second quarter touchdowns. Stapleton scored from 24 yards out to pull Coal Grove within 7-6. He gave his team the lead on a 45-yard run and converted a two-point try to give the Hornets the lead.
Chesapeake’s Kamren Harless answered with a 100-yard kick-off return for a touchdown on the ensuing play to pull the Panthers even 14-14.
Stapleton gave the Hornets the lead again by converting a fourth-down and three run for a 30-yard touchdown run to make it 20-14 at halftime. Harmon’s touchdown three plays into the second half and another two-point conversion by Stapleton gave Coal Grove a 28-14 lead with 10:36 to play in the third quarter.
It was all Chesapeake after that.
The Panthers marched 34 yards on four plays on the next drive and Harless scored on a 48-yard run to pull his team to within a touchdown.
Chesapeake head coach Andy Clark adjusted his defense to limit Stapleton’s yardage and forced Coal Grove into a three-and-out. Then came the Panthers’ longest drive of the night.
Browning plunged into the end zone for a 1-yard score on a quarterback sneak that capped a 13-play drive that took 5:29 off the clock and tied the game 28-28 with 1:19 remaining in the third quarter.
Stapleton left the game because of cramping after ripping off a 14-yard run and did not return. Coal Grove had two drives in the fourth quarter that ended with a turnover on downs and a punt.
Todd scored on a 3-yard run with 4:47 to play to give Chesapeake the lead and set the final score.
Coal Grove, with all three of its timeouts, started from its own 20 but lost 11 yards on a six-play drive — thanks to two penalties and the Panthers’ defense — and punted from its own end zone. The shagged punt landed at Chesapeake’s 26-yard line and let the Panthers run out the clock to secure the win.
With the loss, Coal Grove dropped to 3-2,1-1 in the OVC.