MARTINS FERRY - Week 12 wasn't meant to be for the Martins Ferry Purple Riders.
The Purple's game and gutty charges fell victim to a strong Coshocton Redskins' club, 34-13, on a cold Saturday night at the Dave Bruney Football Complex.
The loss was a sad ending to an otherwise brilliant 8-3 season for Coach Dave Bruney's squad.
Coshocton, meanwhile, improves to 9-2 and will face St. Clairsville on Saturday night in the Division IV regional semifinals at a yet to be determined site.
The Redskins' lone blemishes have come at the hands of unbeaten Bishop Hartley and New Philadelphia.
The Redskins' made the most of their vaunted wing-T attack, garnering nearly 300 yards rushing. That total was greatly inflated after the Purple Riders lost the services of star linebacker Sean McGee to a serious leg injury in the opening quarter.
"I thought our kids performed very well against a great program. Martins Ferry is so well coached with great tradition this makes it a huge win for our program," Coshocton coach Jim Woodrum said. "I thought our offensive line performed super and our backs ran hard.
"The score was not an indication of how tough a game it was. Ferry is very physical and they got a real bad break when they lost McGee," Woodrum continued. "But we are excited to be playing in week 12 and look forward to the challenge which St. Clairsville presents."
Ferry had no problem moving the ball, but was unable to cash in on several opportunities. The biggest coming in the final minute of the first half when the Riders were stopped at the Coshocton one, trailing 14-0. It was a a blow which the Purple never really recovered from.
"I consider Sean (McGee) an all-Ohio football player. When we lost him, we really had to move some people around. That is a tough thing to ask your kids against a wing-T," Bruney said. "Having said that, I don't think that diminishes the effort our kids gave. We played hard and a couple of things went against us.
"Not scoring at the end of the first half from their 1 really hurt. Also, our onside kick took a perfect hop which enabled them to have a big return. But our kids gave all they had and never quit."
Trailing 20-0 midway through the third quarter, Ferry took advantage of a questionable decision by Coshocton to attempt an onside kick. The kick failed miserably, giving Ferry possession at the Coshocton 47. Six plays later, Cody Schau hauled in a 15-yard scoring pass from senior quarterback Jonathan Carlier. Richie Padyjasek's PAT made it 20-7 with 4minutes left in the third.
Coshocton responded with an 80-yard, 12-play scoring drive, capped by a 3-yard run by Brandon Walker, making it a 26-7 lighting with 11:27 left.
The resilient Purple Riders would not go quietly, however.
Ferry subsequently went 81 yards on only seven snaps with senior ace Tyrell Simmons bouncing in from the one. The kick failed, leaving Ferry behind 26-13 with 9:33 to play.
The Purple Riders attempted an onside kick which hopped up perfectly to the Redskins' Tanner Cognion, who returned it all the way to the Purple Riders 10, setting up a game-icing score.
Coshocton received a 173-yard rushing effort from fullback Jacob Bresciani.
Ferry moved the ball well, amassing nearly 300 yards of total offense, with 213 coming on the ground. Simmons capped his stellar Purple Rider career with 108 yards on 18 attempts.
"I feel real bad for our seniors right now. They have done all we have asked of them. They have came a long way in their four years," Bruney said. "We never had a bad practice all season, that is a reflection of our seniors.
"We enjoyed a lot of success this year, winning the OVAC title, a share of the Buckeye 8 title and making the state playoff again," Bruney noted. "But when you reach this point, you just want to keep on playing."