Turnovers doom Riders
By BUBBA KAPRAL
Times Leader Managing Editor
Turnovers can be game changers. Five turnovers in the opening 8 minutes can be fatal.
Martins Ferry experienced such a nightmarish fate Friday. Visiting Edison proved the beneficiary of the Purple Riders’ ongoing generosity, posting an impressive and surprising 35-22 triumph at the Dave Bruney Football Complex.
All told, Martins Ferry totaled seven turnovers, four fumbles and three interceptions. The five miscues in the opening panel set the tone, one which had the Purple paddling upstream all night.
The hosts moved the ball well, amassing more than 300 yards in offense. They, however, were continually stymied by their own mistakes.
“When you make seven turnovers you are not supposed to win. Our effort was there but we just made way too many mistakes,” Dave Bruney offered. “Give Edison credit. They made the most of their chances.
“Edison has some real nice athletes and they performed well tonight,” he added. “Edison was expecting a nice season this year but has lost a number of players due to various reasons.”
The setback dampens Martins Ferry’s playoff hopes. The Riders dropped to 5-3 and must visit unbeaten St. Clairsville Friday night. The Purple ends the season against ancient-rival Bellaire.
Edison, meanwhile, overcame manpower shortages to pocket just its second win in eight starts. The Wildcats have another tough test Friday, hosting Bellaire.
“I have never been more proud of a team. The kids really stepped up and played super against a very good football team. We have a lot of respect for Martins Ferry,” Edison coach Mike McKenzie said. “Our kids have dealt with a lot of adversity, so that makes this win even sweeter.
“It was key we were able to run the ball when we had to in the second half. We were able to keep the ball out of their hands,” he added. “I am really happy four our kids. They needed a win like this.
Edison took a 14-0 first-quarter lead, both touchdowns coming after Ferry fumbles.
Slick junior quarterback Nolan Marcus ran in an option from 11 yards out for the initial TD. Nolan, minutes later, found classmate Devan Tennant on a 38-yard scoring connection. Nolan drilled Rich Springer for the bonus points.
Ferry staged a mammoth 93-yard, 14-play drive to get back into the contest. All the yards came on the ground, save the final 11 as Eric Flowers found a wide open Cody Schau in the end zone with 5:59 left in the opening half. Junior slasher Marcus Sutton, who enjoyed a huge night, ran in the conversion for an 14-8 lighting.
Edison responded on its ensuing possession to regain momentum before intermission. The Wildcats marched it 70 yards in 12 plays, capped by a 10-yard scoring strike from Marcus to Josh Pasek. Marcus added the PAT for a 21-8 Edison lead at the half.
The Wildcats delivered a dagger in the late stages of the third quarter. Edison’s Jacob Ross pilfered a Ferry aerial, giving the Jefferson Countians possession at the Purple 7.
Two Marcus carries, the last from a yard out, padded the Edison advantage. Springer caught the conversion pass from Nolan, giving the Wildcats a comfortable 29-8 upperhand with 2:31 left in the third quarter.
The Riders came back in quick fashion, needing just six plays to cover 65 yards to find the end zone. Sutton sprinted in from 16 yards out with 37 ticks left in the quarter. Arjay Burress booted the PAT to cut the deficit to 29-15.
The would be as close as Ferry would get as the teams traded touchdowns in the final quarter.
Edison did an effective job of maintaining possession in the fourth period by moving the chains on the ground.
“Our offensive line did a great job in the fourth quarter,” McKenzie said. “We know Ferry has weapons so it was nice to keep the ball away from them.”
Marcus enjoyed a productive night for the winners, completing 9-of-18 passes for 148 yards while also rushing for 67.
Sutton topped all ground gainers with 141 stripes on 18 carries for Ferry, which played without three of its senior standouts in Sean McGee, Tyler Strama and Trent Neavin, all out with injuries.
“We are playing as many young kids as we ever have in my 40 years,” Bruney said. “We are doing so out of necessity. Regardless, Edison was quite deserving tonight.”