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Martins Ferry picks up key win over East Liverpool

MARTINS FERRY – The Purple Riders are trending upward.

After an 0-2 start, Martins Ferry garnered its third win in its last four games, topping a solid East Liverpool squad, 23-13, at the Dave Bruney Football Complex Friday night.

The Purple Riders combined a balanced offense with an impressive second-half defensive effort to even their record at 3-3. Coach Chas Yoder’s charges will face a stern test next week when they travel to Wintersville to take on 5-1 Indian Creek.

East Liverpool dropped to a deceptive 2-4. The Potters other three losses have came at the hands of Indian Creek, Salem and Oak Glen. Coach Josh Ludwig’s squad will host Edison Friday.

“We are playing tough football now. We have had a real tough schedule but we are playing well now on both sides of the ball,” Yoder said. “I told our guys going in that East Liverpool is a lot like us. They have had a tough schedule.

“Defensively, they are a real good team and their quarterback can make plays,” he added. “Our defense did a real nice job in the second half, holding them scoreless.”

Ferry drew first blood midway through the first quarter, recovering a Potter fumble at the EL 31. It took the Purple Riders nine snaps to find paydirt with senior Caleb Olson pounding it in from the one-yard-line on fourth down. Cody Olson booted the PAT for a 7-0 Purple lead.

EL responded immediately.

The Potters took possession of the ensuing kickoff at their 30. The Columbiana Countians embarked on a 12-play, 70-yard scoring march, capped by a one-yard run by Derek Carter with 54 seconds left in the opening quarter. The PAT went wide, leaving the hosts on top 7-6.

Ferry answered on its next possession, driving 65 yards on 12 snaps to reach paydirt. The march was fueled by three Jake Probst completions and climaxed by Trevor Hanson’s one-yard burst with 7:51 showing before halftime. The PAT attempt went awry, leaving the Purple on top 13-6.

The contest continued to be a see-saw affair as EL used a 44-yard kickoff return by Carter to set up shop at the Riders’ 46. Nick Woodyard, making his first start at quarterback, carried four times to help the invaders to the Purple three. From there, Woodyard teamed with Howie Williams on a two-yard scoring toss. The Potters drew even at 13-all via a Austin Deering PAT.

A key moment in the game came when EL had a fourth-and-one at the Ferry 45 late in the half. The Potter rush attempt was stuffed by an onslaught of Purple defenders, giving the hosts the ball at midfield.

Three Probst-to-Logan Smith completions advanced the Riders to the Potter nine with four ticks left in the half. Cody Olson boomed a 26-yard field goal, lifting Ferry to a 16-13 halftime advantage.

The lone score in the second half came after Ferry junior defensive stalwart Evan Carpenter blocked a Potter punt, enabling the Riders to take possession at the EL five. On the first snap, Probst ran straight up the middle to paydirt. Cody Olson’s PAT dropped the curtain on the night’s scoring with 3:19 showing in the third quarter.

EL mounted a serious scoring threat on its next possession. Starting at their 19, the Potters used 16 plays to reach the Rider 15 where a fourth-and-seven pass fell incomplete.

“I don’t feel our record reflects the team we are, but unfortunately it does. There is still a lot of fight in these kids,” Ludwig said. “Going into the season I had Martins Ferry pegged one of the most dangerous teams on our schedule. They are a real good team.”

Ferry rushed for 127 yards and passed for 114. Chase Goff led the Purple rushers with 68 yards on 19 tries. Probst completed 11-of-15 passes, nine being hauled in by Smith.

EL rushed for 149 yards while adding 191 through the air. Woodyard enjoyed a big night, rushing for 112 yards while completing 13-of-19 passes.

“Tonight showed that we still have fight in us. I am happy with my team,” Yoder said. “We have four tough games left but that makes it fun.”

At halftime, Sidne Sidon was crowned Martins Ferry High Homecoming Queen.

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