BIDWELL, Ohio — An air raid works best with a little ground support.
Unfortunately, River Valley found out the hard way Friday night following a 28-16 setback to visiting Chesapeake on Homecoming in a Week 6 Ohio Valley Conference gridiron matchup in Gallia County.
The host Raiders (1-5, 0-1 OVC) outgained CHS by a slim 315-303 overall margin in total yardage, which included a comfortable 257-80 edge in passing yards.
The Panthers, however, countered with a ground assault that proved to be too much for RVHS to overcome, as the guests pounded out 223 rushing yards — compared to just 58 by River Valley.
Both teams gained an advantage with their approach, but the real difference in the outcome came down to how each team fared when the roles were reversed. RVHS twice came up scoreless on first-and-goal drives inside the five, while Chesapeake went a perfect 4-for-4 in the passing game — which included the game-clincher late in the fourth quarter.
The Panthers (1-5, 1-0 OVC) proved their ground superiority from the opening bell, as the guests executed 18 consecutive running plays before attempting a pass on the opening play of the second quarter.
CHS scored on its opening drive with a 15-play, 64-yard march down the field that was capped by a Chad Meadows 3-yard run, making it a 7-0 contest with 3:24 left in the period.
After forcing a three-and-out, the Panthers followed with an 8-play, 63-yard drive that resulted in a 14-0 edge after Meadows plunged in from three yards out with 10:19 remaining before halftime.
The Raiders wasted little time retaliating, as Dayton Hardway hit Austin Bradley with a 79-yard scoring pass on the first play of the ensuing drive — allowing the hosts to pull to within 14-7 with 10:01 left in the half.
Both teams trade possessions, then CHS quarterback Austin Oldaker ended a 7-play, 82-yard scoring drive with a 1-yard run — allowing the guests to claim a 21-7 cushion just 38 seconds before the break.
Chesapeake owned a 15-5 lead in first downs at the intermission and claimed a sizable 239-126 edge in total offensive yards, which included a hefty 167-11 cushion in the rushing yards.
The Raiders needed just four plays to go from their 35 to the Panthers’ 10-yard line, but the hosts managed only two yards over the next three plays — setting up a critical fourth-and-goal at the eight.
Hardway connected with Kirk Morrow on an 8-yard scoring pass, capping a 7-play, 65-yard scoring drive at the 10:04 mark for a 21-14 deficit.
River Valley forced CHS to punt on its next possession, then the hosts put together an impressive 20-play, 75-yard drive that ended in a loss of downs at the Chesapeake 1-yard line. That drive ended with no points to show after having a first-and-goal at the one.
On the Panthers’ ensuing snap, however, RVHS tackled Meadows in the end zone — resulting in a safety with 39 seconds left in the third and a 21-16 contest.
Chesapeake put the nail in the coffin 2:07 left in the game, as Andrew Saunders hauled in an 8-yard scoring pass from Oldaker to cap a 9-play, 48-yard drive that made it a 28-16 contest.
RVHS responded with a 36-yard pass play on its next possession to set up a first-and-goal at the four, but the hosts were unsuccessful in gaining any ground over its next four plays.
CHS took three kneel downs to run out the final 1:27 of regulation, securing its first victory of the 2013 campaign in the process. It also improved Chesapeake’s alltime OVC record against the Raiders to 12-0.
The Panthers finished the night with 223 rushing yards on 223 carries, while the hosts had 58 yards on 23 rushing attempts. The guests also ended the evening with a 19-15 edge in first downs and had the only turnover in the contest.
River Valley was penalized six times for 52 yards, while the Panthers were flagged nine times for 55 yards.
Justin Arrowood led RVHS with 60 rushing yards on 14 attempts, followed by Austin Bradley with 15 yards on one carry and Kirk Morrow with two yards on one tote.
Dayton Hardway finished the night 15-of-38 passing for 257 yards, which included zero interceptions and two touchdowns. Hardway also had seven rushes for negative 19 yards.
Morrow led the wideouts with nine catches for 107 yards, followed by Dustin Bickers with 57 yards on three grabs. Austin Bradley had one catch for 79 yards, while Mark Wray and Justin Arrowood each had a catch for 11 yards and three yards respectively.
Chad Meadows led the CHS ground game with 22 carries for 117 yards, followed by Maccoy Brown with 61 yards on 17 tries. Austin Oldaker was 4-of-4 passing for 80 yards, including a TD pass and zero interceptions. Andrew Saunders led the guests with two catches for 38 yards.
Senior Morgan Greenlee was named the 2013 RVHS Homecoming Queen during a halftime ceremony. The Raiders last won a Homecoming contest in 2007 after beating Alexander by a 29-7 count in Cheshire.
River Valley returns to action Friday when it welcomes Coal Grove for its Senior Night home finale at 7:30 p.m.