LOGAN, OHIO – The Wheelersburg Pirates are headed to the Regional Championship game next Friday evening after soundly defeating the West Lafayette Ridgewood Generals 42-21 in the Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) Football Playoffs Division V Region 17 Semi-final game. The Pirates controlled the bulk of the game against the Generals last night at Logan Chieftain Stadium in Logan.
While the win was by a span of three touchdowns, there were some scary moment for Coach Rob Woodward’s Pirates.
After jumping out to a 14-0 lead, the Generals took advantage of a few big offensive plays and a Pirate turnover to tie the game late in the second quarter.
Fortunately for Wheelersburg, the Pirate offense was able to give Wheelersburg a seven point lead leading into the second half, a lead they would never lose.
“It was probably some of the sloppiest football we’ve played in the last four or five weeks, but we still came out victorious,” said Woodward. “We had some young guys that have showed some promise and have done well in games but when you get tested on the big stage, sometimes you’ll falter, and those plays happen.”
Adding to the ugly part of the first half for the Pirates, Woodward said there were several poor decisions and a touchdown that was called back due to a penalty, along with several other penalties during crucial times of the game, which all led to some uneasy moments for the Pirates and their fans.
Woodward was proud with how his team responded to the attempted comeback by the Generals.
“What an outstanding job by the offense, for putting up 14 points and not getting stopped, and then driving there at the end of the second quarter getting the momentum back on our side,” said Woodward. “Anytime a team scores right before the half, it’s a huge momentum shift.”
The Pirate defense stepped up their game in the second half, forcing two punts, and only allowing a single score in the last half of the game. Perhaps the biggest defensive stand in the second half came by way of a Tanner Bivens sack on fourth down, which resulted not only with a turnover on downs, but an 11-yard loss.
“They really stepped up tonight and made plays,” said Woodward.
The most dominating performance of the night came from Wheelersburg’s offensive line.
“I really felt like our offensive line was outstanding tonight on the line of scrimmage,” said Woodward. “We were creating holes, and backs were running and hitting those holes. When I say offensive line, I’m talking from tight end to tight end.”
The crowd showed their love for the Pirates throughout the entire game. At times their cheers and stomping was so loud the radio broadcast teams covering the game couldn’t hear each other.
“We put our heart and soul into this game of football, and our fans do as well, as they come out and support our kids,” said Woodward.
The night started off great for the Pirates. On the first drive, the Generals began a drive down the field and found themselves on their own 35 when the Pirates forced a fumble, and took over possession of the ball.
Facing a short field, needing only 33 yards to score thanks to the fumble recovery, the Pirates pounded the ball down the field. Thanks in part to two double digit yard gains by Jordan Howard and Tanner Bivens, the Pirates lined up on the two yard line. It took two attempts, but Howard and the Pirates drew first blood on the Generals after his two-yard scoring run. After the point after, the ‘Burg lead Ridgewood 7-0 with 7:30 remaining in the first quarter.
The Pirates defense had to pull double duty on the second drive for the Generals. After causing a three and out, Wheelersburg was flagged for a roughing the kicker penalty, which gave Ridgewood a first down.
Wheelersburg’s defense showed its determination however, causing another three and out, as they only gave up two yards on the second part of the drive.
On the following drive the Generals managed to hold their defensive line and forced the Pirates to punt.
‘Burg’s defense responded and held the Ridgewood at bay, again only allowing two yards on the drive. After a Generals punt, the Pirates took over on their own 20 yard line after a touchback.
Several minutes into the second quarter, the Pirates put together a defense killing drive, lasting 14 plays and gaining 80 yards. The drive had highlights from a Kyle Davis 13-yard run and a 22-yard pass to Howard. The Pirates found the endzone after a one-yard Xander Carmichael run, giving the Pirates a 14-0 lead over the Generals with 5:53 left in the second quarter.
The Generals would retaliate on the next drive scoring a touchdown on a four play 44-yard scoring drive. After the score, Wheelersburg remained in the lead 14-7 with 4:17 remaining in the half.
Tragedy would strike the Pirates after Dominic Reyes was unable to hold onto the ball after getting hit by a Ridgewood defender. The Generals regained possession of the ball on the 50 after the fumble recovery.
Adding to their new found momentum, the Generals found the endzone for the second time after Trent Harrisson ran the ball in from the Wheelersburg nine yard line.
‘Burg fired back almost immediately, scoring off a 3-yard Keaton Newsome run, set up by two long pass completions by Davis to Howard and Carmichael.
Momentum stayed with the Pirates the entire second half, as they wasted no time in adding more points on the scoreboard. Howard ran in a 3-yard score to start off the second half giving the Pirates a 28-14 lead.
On their next offensive drive, the Pirates struck again, this time thanks to a 67-yard pass from Davis to Bivens.
The Generals managed to score one last time, and the only time in the second half, when Billy Bailey was able to dodge Pirate tacklers on a two yard scoring run.
The final score of the night came when Howard forced his way into the endzone with only 1:22 seconds left in the game, giving the game its final score 42-21.
The Pirates will face Chillicothe Zane Trace next Friday in a Regional Championship game which will be played at a site yet to be determined by the OHSAA.
“We’ve been there a few times, and we’re on the hunt for a Regional Championship,” said Woodward. “We let it slip through our fingers last year, but we’re going to do everything in our power to go grab that Regional Championship.”
Reach Michael Hamilton at 740-353-3101, ext 1931 or on Twitter @MikeHamilton
1 2 3 4 Final
Wheelersburg 7 14 14 7 42
Ridgewood 0 14 0 7 21
Burg – J. Howard 2-yd run (PAT good) (7:30)
Burg – Z. Carmichael 1-yd run (PAT good) (5:53)
Ridgewood – J. Slusser 15-yd pass to B. Bailey (PAT good) (4:17)
Ridgewood – T. Harrisson 9-yd run (PAT good) (1:06)
Burg – K. Newsome 3-yd run (PAT good) (0:12)
Burg – T. Howard 3-yd run (PAT good) (8:45)
Burg – K. Davis 67-yd pass to T. Bivens (PAT good0 (5:58)
Ridgewood – B. Bailey 2-yd run (PAT good) (4:13)
Burg – J. Howard 9-yd run (PAT good) (1:22)