Union Local cruises by Ferry, 40-15

MORRISTOWN — Martins Ferry was literally on the doorstep of seemingly taking control of Friday’s game against Union Local.

Sophomore quarterback Jacob Probst landed a beautifully thrown pass into the arms of his receiver, who appeared to be headed for a touchdown that would have given the Purple Riders at least a 21-14 lead heading into halftime.

However, Union Local’s Ty Kildow, who was all over the place in the secondary, didn’t give up on the play and stripped the Riders’ receiver just before the goal line. Braden Lucas — who made his presence felt on both sides of the ball all game long — pounced on the ball, giving the Jets the ball back.

“How about that play?” Union Local head coach Bruce Stiles said. “That was a heck of a play. That’s stuff you work on, but you really never expect it to happen. It was a heads-up play. We had a couple of plays like that.”

Union Local never looked back from there and Martins Ferry never recovered. The Jets proceeded to outscore the Riders, 26-0 in the second half to post a cherished 40-15 victory.

“It kind of snowballed on us,” Ferry head coach Dave Bruney said. “Our (receiver) ran a great route, made a great catch and it was a beautiful throw. The kid was fighting to score and we talk all the time about yards after contact, but not at the expense of the ball.”

It was certainly a heavy price to pay. Union Local, which spotted the Purple Riders a 9-0 lead in the first quarter, scored on the first possession of the second half when Lucas, who rushed for 143 yards, scored his third of four touchdowns, covering 70 yards in the process.

“We didn’t come out ready to play and we didn’t match Martins Ferry’s intensity, but we had a heart-to-heart at halftime about just getting back to doing what we do,” Stiles said. “I think that first offensive series made a statement to our kids that we were ready to go.”

Union Local, which struggled in every phase of special teams all evening, got the ball directly back after the touchdown when it pounced on a loose ball after Ferry muffed the ensuing kickoff.

From there, it took seven plays and the Jets were officially soaring. Lucas capped the march from a yard out. Ben Howell, who also eclipsed the 100-yard barrier in the game by two stripes, did the bulk of the work, rushing for 45 of the yards on the 50-yard drive.

“After we got down, we had to go completely out of character and we continually kept putting (the ball) on the ground,” Bruney lamented. “We blew some defensive calls. We had kids not playing the defense that was called and ended up with two guys in one gap. Against those zone schemes, if that happens, it’s a one-cut deal and you’re off to the races. We preached all week about being in our gaps.”

With rain coming down sideways for a bulk of the second half, both teams struggled with ball security. However, Union Local’s gaffes weren’t as noticeable. The Jets committed four turnovers, but the Purple Riders lost six more fumbles and threw a pick. On top of those turnovers, they also had a botched snap on a punt.

“We missed some opportunities that I was kind of disappointed in, but I thought for the most part, we really capitalized well on their mistakes,” Stiles said.

Union Local quarterback Cal Kildow ran for a 7-yard touchdown late in the third quarter after Lucas recovered his second fumble deep in Purple Riders’ territory. Howell capped the scoring from a yard out with 2:48 to play on a drive that was set up by an interception by Ty Kildow.

All told, half of the Jets’ six scoring drives came following a Ferry turnover.

Ferry’s workhorse senior running back Dalton Hoover was held in relative check. He scored both of the Riders’ touchdowns, but he rushed for just 52 yards on 18 carries. Ferry was held to 164 yards of total offense.

“We just have to keep working and fighting,” Bruney said.

The Jets finished with 271 yards rushing and added 68 through the air. Lucas finished with 143 yards. He also caught three passes for 34 yards.

Union Local, which was making its home debut, is back on the road in week four against Harrison Central, while Ferry returns home trying to right its ship against St. Clairsville.