The push for the postseason has begun.
Indian Creek bolstered its hopes of securing a position in the Ohio Division III playoffs by virtue of a 27-14 victory over Martins Ferry, Friday night at Purple Rider Stadium at the Dave Bruney Football Complex.
"We had some mistakes in the first half," Indian Creek head coach Andrew Connor said. "We had turnovers and some penalties that hurt, but the kids did a great job overcoming them. The kids didn't let that affect them.
MARTINS?FERRY’S Sean McGee scores from a yard out to give the Purple Riders the early lead Friday night. Indian Creek rallied for a 27-14 victory. Additional images may be found at cu.timesleaderonline.com
"We just kept battling and finally got a win down here," Connor added.
The win, which was Creek's first at Martins Ferry, keeps the Redskins in the thick of the Region 11 playoff chase. Indian Creek was 10th in last week's ratings.
"One thing we know playing Martins Ferry, they are not going to beat themselves," Connor related. "Our kids showed a tremendous amount of resiliance after the first-half miscues."
Martins Ferry, meanwhile, falls to 5-2 on the season. The loss is a setback for the Purple Riders' postseason chances in Division IV. The Purple entered the weekend in sixth position.
"Indian Creek has a very nice team," veteran Ferry head coach Dave Bruney said. "They are a senior-dominated team. Both teams played extremely hard.
"It was an intense, good high school football game," Bruney added. "Obviously, we don't like losing, but a game like this gives our young kids a chance to improve. We battled for four intensity-filled quarters."
Things got off to a great start for the hosts.
Receiving the opening kickoff, the Riders lined up in 'the wildcat' with shifty junior Brian Styles breaking free for a 72-yard burst to the Creek one. Rugged senior Sean McGee bulled in from a yard out. Freshman Arjay Burress was true on the PAT making it 7-0 just 1:47 into the game.
Creek drove deep into Ferry territory but Rider senior Cody Schau picked off an Alex Young pass at his own five to thwart the threat.
A Ferry three-and-out gave Creek possession near midfield and again the Redskins marched deep into Ferry territory before settling for a Young 41-yard FG try which was wide left.
Another Ferry three-and-out allowed Creek to set up shop at its 38-yard line. The Redskins needed 11 plays culminating in a 27-yard TD from Young to Corey Goodrich which came on fourth-and-13. Young's PAT knotted things at 7-7.
After another Ferry punt, Creek moved deep into Purple territory but Styles stepped in front of Young's pass and returned it to the Ferry 30.
Two plays later, junior signal caller Eric Flowers found Schau on a slant and the senior shook a tackler and broke free for a 63-yard TD. Burress nailed the point after to make it 14-7 with 7:05 left in the second quarter.
Creek put together an 8-play drive on the ensuing series but Ferry's Zac Coole pounced on a fumble at the Riders' 23.
The Redskins got another crack with 1:08 showing and Young's passing moved IC into the red zone with 12 seconds showing. Young scrambled to left and just before going out of bounds found junior Blake Roar in the corner of the end zone for the score.
Young connected on the extra point to tie things at 14-all with :03 showing.
"The score before the half was really big, " Connor explained. "That was just a critical score with all that went wrong in the first half and to be tied at the half was really big for us."
"We had guys in position to make plays on both of the first half touchdowns, but we just didn't make the play," Bruney said. "Give Creek credit though because they did make the play."
The second half belonged to the Redskins.
Indian Creek took the kickoff and immediately put together a seven-play drive with Young covering the final three yards for the score. The kick failed and IC held a 20-14 edge with 9:01 left in the third quarter.
Ferry's best second half threat saw the Riders driving inside the Creek 30, but Ferry was forced to give the ball over on downs.
Creek salted the game away with a 61-yard drive with Roar plowing in from three yards out. Young booted the point after extending the lead to 27-14 with 11:11 showing in the fourth.
Indian Creek racked up 301 yards on the ground with senior Logan Woods leading the way with 167 yards on 18 totes. Indian Creek's offensive line of Mark Wojciechowski, Justin Gibson, Paul Eakle, Jake Mamula and the right tackle tandem of Levi Flesher/Shane Winland did great work.
Young passed for 127 stripes and rushed for 60 more.
The Creek defensive line also played well led by senior defensive end Montel McClelland.
"Our defensive line was key in the second half," Connor said. "We didn't have to blitz a lot to get pressure which allowed us to read our keys and make plays."
Styles led the Ferry offense with 93 rushing yards on eight carries. Flowers completed 8-of-20 passes for 100 yards with Schau being his favorite target with three catches for 76 yards.
Indian Creek's playoff push continues next week with a huge game in Wintersville where Harrison Central visits. Martins Ferry will look to regroup as Edison visits.