Jackson County Times-Journal
JACKSON — For the undefeated — and top-ranked in Division V — Wheelersburg Pirates, much is made about their up-tempo, spread-the-field offense engineered by all-state quarterback Eddie Miller.
But the Pirate defense definitely set the tone for Friday night’s 49-14 victory over the Jackson Ironmen inside Alumni Stadium.
The Pirates (5-0) didn’t allow the Ironmen (2-3) to complete a single pass, grounded Jackson to only 135 yards of total offense, and forced the Ironmen into eight punts.
All the while, Jackson crossed midfield only three times.
“Defense set the tone of the game,” Wheelersburg coach Rob Woodward said. “We’ve been piecing some things together all year, and see what works out best for us. It all came together tonight. It was a tremendous defensive performance for our kids. They aligned themselves in the right positions to make plays, we had a great scheme and we did a great job of with them. The ends did a great job out on the edge. We had six or seven hats to the ball almost every time.”
The Pirates raced out to a 21-0 halftime lead, as Miller completed a pair of touchdown passes to Tyler Claxon (19 yards) and Dylan Miller (10 yards).
Claxon caught a 9-yard aerial from Miller with 9:21 remaining in the third quarter, pushing the Pirate lead up to 28-0.
When Jackson scored its two touchdowns, Wheelersburg responded right back with two big plays for scores in a matter of less than a minute-and-a-half.
Claxon returned a kickoff 75 yards for a touchdown with only 28 seconds left in the third period, making it 35-7 with the Daylor Lewis extra-point kick.
After the Ironmen made it 35-14 with 10 minutes remaining, Miller completed his third touchdown toss to Claxton from 55 yards away a mere 1:33 later.
Micah McAlister scored the Pirates’ final touchdown with five minutes remaining.
Wheelersburg rolled up 431 yards of total offense, including 268 through the air and with 256 and four scores by Miller.
The reigning Southeast District Division V Offensive Player of the Year completed 24-of-32 passes, including 10 apiece to top targets Claxon and Dylan Miller.
Claxon caught a hat trick of scores for 130 yards, while Dylan Miller mustered 97.
Eddie Miller rushed 12 times for 65 yards, and capped a massive 14-play, 81-yard scoring drive with a 1-yard sneak with nine minutes remaining in the first half.
“Eddie made tremendous decisions tonight,” Woodward said. “He saw what worked, he has options on plays, he scans the field and makes good decisions on each and every snap. He hit Tyler Claxon and Dylan Miller on the short passes, and Tyler Claxon was tremendous tonight.”
The Pirates were the first team to play in Jackson’s 10-year old Alumni Stadium as a top-ranked team in the Associated Press statewide football poll.
Wheelersburg will travel to Northwest next week for the Southern Ohio Conference Division II opener.