[Tyler Stevens | WOUB]

Wheelersburg survives fierce test from Portsmouth West to advance in Region 19

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WHEELERSBURG, Ohio (WOUB) – The Wheelersburg Pirates had a grueling first round matchup against the Portsmouth West Senators, but clutch performances on both sides of the ball got them over the finish line to secure the victory.

These two teams were familiar foes to one another, as they had clashed the week prior in the final week of the regular season. In that game, Wheelersburg blew out the Senators in a 38-0 shutout.

Portsmouth West traveled again to the Burg to run it back and get a different result, and their play early showed some positive signs.

Midway through the first quarter, Wheelersburg miscued a punt leaving Portsmouth West with great field position deep in Pirates territory. That ensuing Senators drive resulted in a touchdown when Mitchell Irwin connected with Jeffrey Bishop for 29 yards on a 4th and 11 to put them up early in the game.

Wheelersburg responded on their ensuing drive with a touchdown to even up the contest 7-7. There were multiple points left on the board with a missed Pirates field goal and Portsmouth West failing to score a touchdown with four downs to do so on the Wheelersburg two-yard line.

Late in the second quarter, Mitchell Irwin floated the ball over the Wheelersburg secondary to find Jeffrey Bishop for his second touchdown of the night. Bishop finished the game with 107 yards catching all six of his targets.

Wheelersburg had 28 seconds left to work with in the first half, and they made the most of it with Eli Jones throwing one of his three completions 50 yards down the field to Josh Clark. This put them in range for Braxton Sammons to hit a 30 yard field goal to put the Pirates only down 14-10 at halftime.

Coming out of the locker room, Wheelersburg ascended their play to another level. Portsmouth West’s offense came to a screeching halt in the second half, with the run game becoming non-existent and the Burg defense making adjustments to limit the passing game.

The Pirates took their first lead of the game with 7:28 left in the third quarter when Ethan Glover ran the ball 20 yards for the score, putting Wheelersburg up three. Glover averaged nine yards per carry, logging over 100 yards on the ground and scoring the Pirates’ two touchdowns.

After Wheelersburg tacked on another field goal, Portsmouth West went on a long drive in the fourth quarter to try to steal the game. The Senators ran a successful fake punt and then converted another 4th down to keep their drive alive, but could not convert a third fourth down as Mitchell got picked off by Josh Clark to quell Portsmouth West’s late push.

Pirates special teams specialist Braxton Sammons put out a quality performance, nailing three field goals in the game, including a dagger 43 yard field goal with less than three minutes left in the game to make the contest a two possession game.

A Wheelersburg fumble recovery and a few kneel-downs later, the Pirates took down the Senators 23-14 to advance in the playoffs.

The Ridgewood Generals await Wheelersburg in the next round, a team that has knocked out the Pirates the past two seasons. The trilogy matchup in the division V regional quarterfinal will take place at Ridgewood Saturday at 7 p.m.