GALLIPOLIS, Ohio — Usually, a long-awaited homecoming is celebrated with ticker-tape.
Friday night at Memorial Field, the Blue Devils returned from a 3-week hiatus to a shower of yellow laundry.
The Gallia Academy football team drew 14 of the 19 penalties — including seven of the eight flags thrown in the first half — and never led during a 34-25 setback to visiting Coal Grove in an Ohio Valley Conference matchup in the Old French City.
The Blue Devils (2-2, 0-1 OVC) — after three consecutive weeks of COVID cancellations instead of games — showed obvious signs of rust as the hosts stumbled out to a 21-7 halftime deficit in their annual Homecoming contest.
The Hornets (4-2, 3-1) — behind a solid ground-and-pound attack that churned out 331 rushing yards — led by at least eight points the rest of the way and secured their largest lead of the night at 34-19 with 1:45 left in regulation.
GAHS — which also committed the only two turnovers in the contest — added a Kenyon Franklin 5-yard touchdown catch from Brody Fellure with three-tenths of a second remaining to wrap up the final 9-point outcome.
Chase Hall paced the CGHS offensive attack with 230 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 36 carries, which included a 3-yard TD run in the first quarter and a 1-yard run at the 4:12 mark of the second period en route to a 14-0 advantage.
Both Coal Grove scoring drives lasted 11 and 14 plays, respectively, and covered distances of 66 and 91 yards.
The Blue Devils — who were by this time without all-state junior offensive tackle Isaac Clary due to an injury — rallied with a 6-play, 58-yard drive that resulted in points when Brody Fellure scored on a 26-yard run with 1:47 left in the half for a 14-7 deficit.
The Hornets, however, answered with a 3-play, 77-yard drive that included their only pass completion — a 45-yard reception by Steve Easterling — down to the GAHS 26. Jarren Hicks took the ensuing handoff and covered the distance with 31.3 seconds left for a 21-7 cushion headed into the break.
Gallia Academy put together a 7-play, 51-yard drive out of the second half gate as a 1-yard Fellure run closed the gap down to 21-13 with 8:08 left in the third stanza.
CGHS responded with a 5-play, 57-yard drive that saw Hall score his final TD on a 2-yard run at the 6:43 mark for a 27-13 advantage.
The Blue Devils countered with a 9-play, 58-yard drive that ended with a Hunter Shamblin 1-yard run at the 1:57 mark of the third, making it a 27-19 contest headed into the finale.
After forcing a loss of downs at their own 36, the Blue and White put together 10 consecutive plays and had a first-and-goal at the CGHS 9. The next play, however, resulted in a Fellure pass being picked off by Brad Wheeler with 6:50 remaining in the game.
The Hornets strung together a backbreaking 12-play, 84-yard drive that ended with a Steven Simpson 11-yard run with 1:45 left in regulation, giving the Red and Black their biggest lead of 34-19.
Coal Grove claimed a 20-17 edge in first downs and outgained the hosts by a 376-357 overall margin in total yards of offense. The Hornets were plus-2 in turnover differential — Simpson recovered a first quarter fumble — and also churned out a 331-125 advantage in yards on the ground.
GAHS earned a 232-45 advantage in passing yards, but also lost 115 yards on those 14 penalties. Coal Grove was flagged just five times for 31 yards.
Fellure led the Blue Devils with 74 rushing yards on 18 attempts and also completed 15-of-22 passes for 232 yards, which included a pick and a TD toss.
Mason Skidmore and Franklin both hauled in five passes apiece for 92 and 64 yards, respectively. GAHS had six different receivers catch at least one pass in the setback.
Simpson followed Hall with 56 rushing yards on 10 totes. Whyatt Mannon was 1-of-2 passing for 45 yards, with Easterling hauling in the pass.
Gallia Academy returns to action Friday when it travels to Rock Hill for an OVC matchup at 7 p.m.
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Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.