COWETA- With their ground game stifled by the loss of running back Buck Maples and by a tough Coweta defense Friday night, the Grove Ridgerunners turned to their passing game to try and pull out a victory.
It nearly worked.
Quarterback Adam Steffenson threw for 239 yards, but the Tigers made just enough plays to eke out an 18-15 Homecoming victory.
Grove had a negative four yards rushing on 28 attempts, a figure somewhat distorted by three misplayed shotgun snaps that led to big losses, but a number indicative of the Tigers' defensive dominance.
Still, the Ridgerunners had a chance. Trailing 18-7 early in the third, Steffenson found Tylor Leffel with a perfectly thrown deep ball down the left sideline. Leffel stepped away from the Coweta defender and raced to the end zone with a 57-yard touchdown. Steffenson then found Kyle Summerfield with a two-point conversion pass to cut the lead to three.
But the Ridgerunners (4-2, 2-1 in District 5A-4) would only get one more first down the rest of the way. That came when Steffenson found Bryce Armstrong over the middle with a 19-yard pass to convert a third-and-five with under a minute left in the third quarter. A personal foul against Coweta on the play moved the ball to the Tiger 41.
Three plays later the Ridgerunners were facing a fourth-and-four from the 35. With the play clock winding down, Steffenson called for a time out, but wasn't granted one by the referees. The snap then went past Steffenson, resulting in a 16-yard loss. The Ridgerunners would not get across midfield on their final three possessions.
Coweta built their lead on a long drive in the last two minutes of the first half and a big play to start the second half. Grove took the lead on a one-yard Steffenson run with 2:29 left in the second quarter. The run capped an 11-play, 74-yard drive highlighted by Trent Phillips' one-handed catch and run for a 28-yard gain.
But the Tigers (4-2, 2-1) would come back to take the lead. Starting at their own 10, the Tigers used a mix of pass and run plays to move the ball past midfield. Jakeem Johnson then darted through the middle of the Grove defense for a 32-yard run that moved the ball to the nine. Clint Keel would get the ball in from the one with just under 30 second left in the half to make the score 10-7.
Coweta then struck paydirt on the second play of the third quarter when Trevor Sumpter found Randall Smith over the middle for a 61-yard touchdown.
Sumpter finished the game with 131 yards passing, while Johnson led all runners with 76 yards on nine carries. Johnson only gained four yards in the second half as the Tigers were held to 35 yards rushing over the final two quarters.
Linebacker Bobby Harris led the defensive charge for Grove with 12 tackles and a quarterback sack. Phillips had nine tackles and an interception.
Steffenson finished 18-of-29 with three interceptions and one touchdown. Tylor Leffel became the first Grove receiver to go over 100 yards in a game this season, getting 106 on five catches.
The Ridgerunners wil return home next week to take on the Tulsa Edison Eagles, while Coweta travels to Tahlequah to take on the Tigers.
Coweta 18, Grove 15
1st 2nd 3rd 4th Final
CHS 3 7 8 0 18
GHS 0 7 8 0 15
First Downs 10 11
Total Yards 235 271
Rushing 28-(-4) 33-140
Passing 239 131
C-A-I 18-29-3 11-24-1
Turnovers 3 1
RUSHING: GHS- Benny Steffenson 16-31, Trent Phillips 1-6, Buck Maples 1-4, Adam Steffenson 10-(-45).
CHS- Jakeem Johnson 9-76, Clint Keel 16-42, Trevor Sumpter 5-16, Kyle Anderson 2-2, Adam Price 1-2.
RECEIVING: GHS- Tylor Leffel 5-106, Bryce Armstrong 3-49, Trent Phillips 3-34, Tyler Crossley 1-17, Chase Manicom 2-15, Jerrod Leach 2-10, Brody Scott 1-5, Chad Rainbolt 1-4. CHS- Bailey Meadows 4-43, Cole Robertson 2-17, Randall Smith 2-65, Ryan Cooler 1-6, Clint Keel 2-0.
3:49 CHS Caleb Thomas 20-yd FG. CHS 3-0
2:29 GHS Adam Steffenson one-yd run. (Krause kick) GHS 7-3
:26.5 CHS Clint Keel one-yd run (Thomas kick) CHS 10-7
11:20 CHS Randall Smith 61-yd pass from Trevor Sumpter (Kyle Anderson pass to Josh Gladd) CHS 18-7
6:15 GHS Tylor Leffel 57-yd pass from Adam Steffenson (Steffenson pass to Kyle Summerfield) CHS 18-15