Football: Big Fourth Quarter Lifts Martins Ferry

MARTINS FERRY – Comeback wins have become a way of life for Martins Ferry.

The Purple Riders needed a special one Saturday night to stay alive in the postseason at the Dave Bruney Football Complex.

The Riders found themselves down by two scores heading into the fourth quarter against Westfall, but once again displayed the composure and resiliency to notch their 10th win in 11 starts by a 30-28 count.

Martins Ferry advances to take on Wheelersburg in the Division V, Region 17 semifinals at a site to be determined today.

Westfall closed out at 5-6.

Senior quarterback Bryan Styles stepped into the role of catalyst during the final 12 minutes, engineering three touchdown drives.

Down 21-12, Styles broke free on a 38-yard scoring jaunt to make it 21-18.

Westfall, however, made the comeback more difficult via a 33-yard touchdown connection from quarterback Cole Hardin to Taylor Salmons with 9:48 to play. Staten’s PAT made it a 28-18 Mustang advantage.

Ferry responded in OVAC championship fashion.

The Purple Riders embarked on a marathon 14-play, 77-yard scoring march. Styles once again found the end zone from 5 yards out. Matt Barber booted the PAT, cutting the deficit to 28-24.

The Purple Riders defense delivered a three and out, enabling the hosts to take over at their own 45 with 4:34 to play. Five rushes by Styles, another by Coleman and an offside penalty moved the Purple Riders to the Westfall 11, with less than two minutes remaining.

Two carries by Jahod Joyce advanced the ball to the 3. Hard-running junior Bruce Burger delivered the game-winner from there with exactly one minute left on the clock for a 30-28 lead. The conversion run failed.

Westfall had one final chance. The Mustangs moved to the Riders 40 but their hopes ended when Hardin was sacked by a trio of Ferry pass rushers.

“It was a great effort from a lot of guys,” Martins Ferry coach Dave Bruney said. ”We beat a very good football team. Westfall played real well. They came into the game on a roll. We knew they would be tough to handle.

“Our kids have been down before. They displayed composure once again in the fourth quarter. These kids refuse to lose.”

Styles rushed 18 times for 154 yards and two TDs. He also completed 7 of 14 passes for 53 yards.