Jayden Spires Jackson Ironmen
Jayden Spires fights through a tackle in the Ironmens game against the Stars. (Joe Collins/WOUB)

Jackson Cruises Past Centennial in Regional Quarterfinal

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JACKSON, Ohio- Record-high scoring numbers fell into the Jackson Ironmen’s lap all night Friday in the Apple City as they hosted the Centennial Stars and came out on top, 70-28.

The three seed vs. six seed match up got off to a fast start as Centennial’s Jaylen Gilbert punched a hole through the iron curtain defense to give the Stars an early 7-0 advantage. That score lit in a fire in the bellies of the Ironmen that couldn’t be extinguished; running back Jayden Spires led the charge with a 23-yard score to knot the game up at seven apiece.

Jackson quarterback Jared Icenhower ended the quarter running into the end zone to give the Ironmen their first lead of the game. Gilbert once again got his team into the scoring column on a pass to Charles Dean to equalize the score, but costly mistakes would allow the Ironmen to run away with the ballgame from there, as Spires and fellow running back Brice Graham lit up the Centennial defense on the ground to force a running clock in the third quarter.

The Jackson offensive line fights for yardage in the Ironmens game against the Stars. (Joe Collins/WOUB)
Luchene Davis finds open field in the Stars game against the Ironmen. (Joe Collins/WOUB)

Once the game concluded, Jackson had amassed 534 total yards in their 70-28 rout of the Stars to move to the Division III, Region 11 semifinal. After tonight’s performance, Spire’s case to be included in the Gridiron Glory POY final five is clear to see. Spires led the team in rushing with 225 yards on his feet with two touchdowns, while Graham led scoring with three rushing touchdowns. Icenhower completed two passing touchdowns – both to Treylan Davis – for 73 yards.

This game was Jackson’s highest scoring of the season, but it was also its defense’s worst performance in terms of points surrendered. Centennial’s passing game gave them an early edge before halftime adjustments by the Ironmen defense neutralized the pass game. For the Stars, Gilbert ended the night with 185 passing yards for two TDs and three interceptions, as well as a rushing touchdown. Luchene Davis rushed for 107 yards and a score.

Though both shared a common opponent in the regular season (the Chillicothe Cavaliers), it was clear by the end that Jackson had the better game plan going in, and any team able to force a running clock in the playoffs should be considered a contender to win the region. Jackson will prepare for week twelve for the first time since 2015 as they face off against the Jonathan Alder Pioneers. The game location is yet to be determined; however, you can keep up with this match up as well as other playoff contests around southeast Ohio on Gridiron Glory, live Fridays at 11:30 p.m.