Wheelersburg Grinds Out Hard-Fought Victory Over Jackson

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The Wheersburg Pirates notched their fourth victory of the season Friday night, topping the Jackson Ironmen 33-14 at Ed Miller Stadium.

Offensively, both squads struggled to maintain any type of momentum through the first 15 minutes of this contest, as hard-hitting defenses and penalties highlighted the first and part of the second quarter.

With 9:06 left in the first half, the Pirates defense took scoring matters into their own hands when Tanner Holden took a Jared Icenhower sideline pass 66 yards the other way for a pick-six. The Wheelersburg offense picked things up right before the half as well, as quarterback Trent Salyers connected with Makya Matthews through the air for a 34-yard touchdown, making it 13-0. The Pirates would take that lead into the half.

Scoring wise, it was a tale of two halves.

The third quarter alone produced 28 points, doubling the first half totals. Salyers dominated with both his arm and legs, scoring from 49 yards out just two minutes into the second half. He followed it up with a 64-yard pass to Holden, giving Holden a score on both sides of the ball.

Jackson had their own offensive barrage in the quarter as well, responding quickly to both Wheelersburg scores. Brice Parks made a last-minute lateral as he was going down to Brody Landrum for a 12-yard rushing touchdown. Quarterback Jared Icenhower got it done through the air as well, as he responded from a big hit immediately to connect with Reid Evans from midfield through the air.

Despite their revamped offensive attack in the third, Jackson was unable to keep pace with the balanced attack of the defending state champions. Makya Matthews would punch one in with 7:53 left in the game, and the Pirates would go on to win.

For the Pirates, Salyers proved to be too much of a force for the Ironmen defense to contain. Despite a gritty performance by the Ironmen front through the first half, the Senior quarterback eventually took over, going 10-16 for 157 yards through the air, rushing for 67 yards, and scoring two touchdowns.

A lot of credit goes to the Pirates defense as well, as they made some big plays and held Jackson to 207 total yards, a little more than half of what they usually compile. Jackson also wreaked havoc in the backfield early, but a combination of injuries to their offense and the shear firepower of the Pirates offense proved to be too much for Jackson to overcome.

Despite the loss, Ironmen head coach Andy Hall was proud of the way his team battled for all four quarters against the reigning state champs.

“I’m proud of our overall effort tonight. I told our guys if you keep playing with this effort, you will win out. It won’t be easy, and we’ll have to block out the noise and focus against some very talented teams, but we can do it. I’m confident in our abilities going forward.”

Jackson begins conference play and a three-game home stretch next week with a matchup against Washington Court House, while Wheelersburg will square off against Oak Hill on the road.