PDT Sports Editor
WHEELERSBURG — Wheelersburg (4-1) fueled a 40-14 win over Jackson (2-3) Friday night with a combination of offensive efficiency and disciplined defensive play.
Pirates quarterback Eddie Miller exploded for 153 yards rushing and three touchdowns but also added two more touchdowns and 231 yards through the air, providing ‘Burg with a result that left coach Rob Woodward at a loss for negatives.
“Tremendous job. That is all attributed to my coaching staff for putting players in a position to be successful and then the players buying into the concept that we would present and doing a good job,” Woodward said.
Wheelersburg made its first possession count with a five-play, 75-yard drive that featured a 49-yard touchdown scamper by Miller. The extra point by Dylan Miller made it 7-0 Pirates with 10:04 left in the first quarter.
Wheelersburg’s defense, which did not allow an Ironmen first down until there were only 37.8 seconds remaining in the first quarter, forced them to a three-and-out and the Pirates struck again on the subsequent possession.
“You say those numbers and it just rings in my ears because you get caught up in the game, play-by-play, but our kids didn’t back down to an offensive line that had a size advantage against us,” Woodward said. “They fought hard and Jackson does a good job doing certain things and I thought our players did a great job recognizing the keys that we showed them all week.”
Scoring again was Eddie Miller, this time with an 11-yard touchdown run to finish a 10-play, 64-yard scoring drive that made it 13-0 Wheelersburg. The extra point attempt was blocked.
The failed extra point was the only area Woodward could see a flaw in his team without a review of the game tape.
“We had a field goal blocked. That’s one of our goals so we won’t get a sticker for 100 percent efficiency on extra points, but right now I am very pleased with the performances of my guys. Of course the tape will tell us more,” Woodward said.
Jackson’s second drive was as unsuccessful as its first and, continuing the night’s habit of rapid scoring, the Pirates added to their lead, this time with an 8-yard touchdown pass from Eddie Miller to Dylan Miller (9 receptions, 157 yards, two touchdowns) to make it 19-0 with 43.9 seconds left in the first quarter. The 2-point conversion attempt failed.
The Ironmen’s offense found their first third down conversion of the evening on their next possession, but the drive stalled and ended in a punt.
“It was a frustrating game and we were facing an outstanding football team,” Jackson coach Andy Hall, a Wheelersburg graduate and former Pirates coach, said.
‘Burg’s next drive was capped by a Aaron Cowgill (3 rushes, 46 yards, TD) rush on third and goal that went six yards and stretched the Pirates’ advantage to 26-0 after the extra point attempt was good.
Jackson took possession of the ball with 8:26 left in the half but could not keep its drive going when running back Mitchell McCorkle (14 rushes, 42 yards) was tackled short of the marker on a fourth down by Wheelersburg’s Christian Ellis.
Once again, Wheelersburg ended a drive with points as Eddie Miller connected with Dylan Miller (nine receptions, 157 yards) on a 20-yard touchdown with four minutes remaining in the half. Dylan Miller’s extra point made it 33-0 and the score would stand through the intermission.
“Eddie Miller took the offense on his back tonight, along with the great play of our offensive line, and just orchestrated our offense tonight running and throwing the football and making great decisions,” Woodward said. “He was poised and calm.”
The second half started with a Jackson drive that reached the Wheelersburg 21-yard-line, but a Steven Kearns pass was broken up by Camron Parsley on 4th-and-4.
Keeping up with first their half fashion, Eddie Miller and the Pirates marched 79 yards over 10 plays before Eddie Miller drove his way into the end zone from one yard out with 3:42 to play. The extra point made it 40-0 in the Pirates favor and the home team would put the offense into cruise control from that point forward.
The skill position players had a shining effort for Wheelersburg.
“Can’t say enough about Tyler Claxon. He was Eddie’s go-to guy tonight and he was right where he needed to be. If it was a third down play he was a yard past the sticks catching the ball,” Woodward said. “Dylan Miller had a bunch of great catches and we were converting very well. Aaron Cowgill had a good night running as did Austin Gifford.
Jackson’s offense showed some life on its second drive of the second half when it put together a grinding, 58-yard, 11-play drive that made it 40-6 after a one-yard touchdown rush by Josh Cutright (six carries for 26 yards and a touchdown). The extra point made it 40-7 with 11:25 to play in the game.
“Defensively we played better in the second half and Josh Cutright played well and gave us some energy,” Hall said. “We had a lot of freshmen playing and I thought that our freshmen inside linebackers played well.”
Wheelersburg, with Austin May relieving Eddie Miller at quarterback, was forced into a three-and-out and the Ironmen, behind the power running of freshman back Jake Crabtree (six rushes, 26 yards and a touchdown), made it into the end zone for the second time. Crabtree’s two-yard rush for a touchdown and the subsequent extra point made it 40-14 with 4:14 remaining.
“I challenged them at half time. I told them they weren’t going to let up and they showed some fight,” Hall said.
Wheelersburg’s backups melted the clock away for a 40-14 final, pushing the Pirates to 4-1 and the Ironmen to 2-3.
The Ironmen, without arguably their best player Morgan Landrum, were left filling positions with freshmen.
“I hate playing freshmen but that was our only option,” Hall said. “There are no excuses. I have to coach better and the players have to play better.”
Wheelersburg will host Northwest for Homecoming next week while Jackson will host Warren.
Bob Strickley can be reached at 353-3101, ext. 203, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jackson 0 0 0 14 — 14
Wheelersburg 19 14 7 0 — 40
W- 49-yard rush by E. Miller, 10:04, 7-0
W- 11-yard rush by E Miller, 4:16, 13-0 (Extra point blocked)
W- 8-yard pass E. Miller to D. Miller, 43.9, 19-0 (2-point failed)
W- 6-yard rush A. Cowgill, 8:26, 26-0
W-20-yard pass E. Miller to D. Miller, 4:00, 33-0
W- 1-yard rush E. Miller, 3:42, 40-0
J- 1-yard rush J. Cutright, 11:25, 40-7
J- 1-yard rush J. Crabtree, 4:14, 40-14
J | W
First Downs 14 | 15
Rush Att.-Yds. 42-218 | 29-228
Pass Att.-Comp.-Int. 14-6-0 | 21-16-0
Pass Yds. 43 | 231
Total Yds. 261 | 459
Fumbles-Lost 1-0 |0-0
Turnovers 0 | 0
RUSHING: Jackson — J. Cutright 6-41, TD; G. Griffiths 4-43; S. Kearns 5-33; R. Williams 6-24; M. McCorkle 14-42; D. Rafferty 1-9; J. Crabtree 6-26, TD | Wheelersburg — E. Miller 10-153, 3 TD; T. Claxon 6-8; C. Ellis 1-(-1); A. Cowgill 4-46, TD; T. Browning 2-1; C. Stone 2-16; A. May 2-3; M. McAlister 2-2.
PASSING: Jackson — S. Kearns 6-14-43 | Wheelersburg — E. Miller 16-21-231-2 TD.
RECEIVING: Jackson — G. Griffiths 2-10; S. Trepanier 1-11; A. Osborne 1-3; B. Brown 1-12; L. Allen 1-7 | Wheelersburg — D. Miller 9-157 2 TD; T. Claxon 7-74.