WEST PORTSMOUTH — What was the 56th meeting between the Wheelersburg Pirates and the West Senators, the Halloween Bowl turned into a one-man show. Eddie Miller stole the show as he accounted for 92 percent of the Pirates (8-2, 4-1) offense, helping them defeat the Senators (4-6, 2-3), 42-20.
Miller completed 21-of-32 passes for 259 yards and four touchdowns and added 137 rushing yards on 11 carries and one touchdown to help Wheelersburg win for the 34th time against West all-time.
“He is a huge part of our offense and it all starts with Eddie getting the ball where it needs to be,” Wheelersburg coach Rob Woodward said.
In the first half, the Halloween Bowl quickly became a duel of the ground game versus the passing game.
After both teams failed to score on their first possessions going to their bread and butter, West played clock control with their second possession with the running game.
A 25-yard run by Austin Bricker setup a first-and-goal for West. However, the Pirates defense stuffed the Senators turning the ball over on downs. The key defensive stop kept the game scoreless at 0-0 in the first quarter.
“The defense stepped up and had a great stand early in the game,” Woodward said.
Wheelersburg, who has been known for their passing game all season long, turned to Eddie Miller on the ensuing drive. However, West was prepared.
On their second play from scrimmage, Miller scrambled to the right and tossed the ball to the right sideline, only to find the hands of defensive back Wesley Book of the Senators with 1:16 left in the first quarter.
West took advantage of the turnover; three plays into the second quarter, Bricker rushed the ball into the end zone from eight-yards with 11:15 left in the half. It was the game’s first score of the night, giving West a 6-0 lead.
“Hats off to West, they did a great job in coming right at us,” Woodward said.
However, on the ensuing drive for the Pirates, Miller took control. Miller completed 5-of-6 passes for 48 yards. On a first-and-goal, Miller rolled to his right, founding wide out Tyler Claxon for a 10-yard touchdown pass with 8:26 left in the half.
Claxon finished with seven receptions for 99 yards and one touchdown.
The score gave the Pirates a 7-6 lead after an extra point from Dylan Miler.
After Wheelersburg took the lead, West again drove down the field controlling the clock pounding the ball on the ground.
On a second-and-seven, the Senators fumbled the ball giving the ball right back to Miller and the Pirates and it was West’s first turnover of the night.
Looking to extend their lead and take advantage of the turnover, Miller again found the hands of a Senator defender. On their third play from scrimmage, Miller looked to the sidelines, lobbing the ball up in the air, only to see it fall into the arms of West’s Justin Scott.
Both teams exchanged punts as the half ended with the Pirates leading 7-6.
“We played a hell of a first half and I am just real proud of them,” West coach Merill Triplett said.
With Wheelersburg deferring the toss before the game looked to build upon the 7-6 lead at the half, but start of the second half it seemed like neither team wanted to hold onto the ball.
The Pirated fumbled the opening kick handing the ball right back to the Senators. Only to find the ball on the ground after West fumbled the ball on their second play from scrimmage.
In less than a minute the two teams fumbled the ball away to the opposing team and it just so happened to fall back into the hands of Miller.
Miller, who threw for 101 yards in the first half, was on full display in the second half. After retaining the ball, Miller took the Pirates down the field in six plays spanning 33 yards. On a third-and-two, Miller faked a hand off in which confounded everyone in the stadium and busted up the field for a 39-yard touchdown run.
The run gave Wheelersburg a 14-6 advantage with 8:54 left in the third quarter.
After the defense forced a three-and-out, Miller was right back in the spotlight. Two plays later and Miller connected with Dylan Miller for a 38-yard pass play, extending their lead to 21-6 with 6:12 left in the third quarter.
Miller had the hot hand in the second half as he was not finished. After another defensive stop, Miller marched Wheelersburg right back down the field. Six plays and 48-yards later, Miller connected with Claxon from 12-yards with 2:17 left in the third quarter.
It was Miller’s third touchdown pass of the evening as the Pirates scored on every possession in the quarter and built a 28-6 lead.
The Senators would simply not give up. After Miller tossed his third touchdown of the evening, West starting quarterback, Steve Irwin, took the Senators down the field and answered.
“We have great kids and they worked real hard,” Triplett said.
Irwin connected with Zach Frye for a 9-yard pass and after a 2-point conversion West cut the lead to 28-14 with 11:14 left in the game.
But it was Miller’s night.
With 7:43 remaining in the game and leading 28-14, Miller connected with Dylan Miller once again, this time from 6 yards out. The score gave the Pirates a 35-14 advantage and was his fourth touchdown toss of the game and third of the second half.
Down 35-14, West did not give up. With just over seven minutes remaining, the Senators took the ball down the field in five plays. Frye, who finished with one rushing and one receiving touchdown on the night, rushed the ball in from 7-yards to cut the lead to 35-20.
“The kids played hard all night and was a good team effort,” Triplett said.
The Pirates would go on to score another late touchdown, scoring on their first five possessions in the half and outscoring West 35-14 in the second half.
“Our offense really settled in the second half,” Woodward said.
Wheelersburg clinched a playoff spot and the location is still to be decided. Pairings will be announced Sunday.
Wheelersburg 0 7 21 14 42
Portsmouth West 0 6 0 14 20
11:15 West- Bricker 8 run (Pass fail) 6-0
8:26 Wheelersburg- Claxon 10 pass from Miller (D. Miller kick) 6-7
8:54 Wheelersburg- Miller 39 run (D. Miller kick) 6-14
6:12 Wheelersburg- D. Miller 38 pass from E. Miller (D. Miller kick) 6-21
2:17 Wheelersburg- Claxon 12 pass from Miller (D. Miller kick) 6-28
11:14 West- Frye 9 pass from Irwin (Pass good) 14-28
7:43 Wheelersburg- D. Miller 6 pass from E. Miller (D. Miller kick) 14-35
6:16 West- Frye 7 run (Run fail) 20-35
4:26 Wheelersburg- Cunningham 1 run (D. Miller kick) 20-42
First Downs 14 20
Total Net Yards 429 239
Rushes-yards 17-170 52-234
Passing 259 105
Comp-Att-Int 21-32-3 8-15-0
Punts-yards 2-27.5 3-38.6
Fumbles-lost 3-1 4-3
Penelties-yards 5-48 8-85
PASSING: West_ Irwin, 7-14-0,105,1; Bricker, 1-1-23; Wheelersburg: E. Miller, 21-32-3-259, 4 TD.
RUSHING: West_ Bricker, 24-141-1, Crace, 2-11, Koons, 3-18, Meeker, 14-49, Irwin 2—6, Frye, 6-21, 1; Wheelersburg_ Gifford, 1-6, Cowgill, 4-26, E. Miller 11-137-1, Cunningham, 1-1-1.
RECEIVING: West_ Welch, 2-10, Frye, 4-77-1, Bricker, 2-32; Wheelersburg; May, 3-36, Claxon, 7-93-7, D. Miller, 7-99-2, Pyles, 4-30, Cowgill, 1-1.