IRONTON — The Wheelersburg Pirates won their fourth straight game over the Ironton Fight Tigers after traveling to Tanks Memorial Stadium and leaving with a 14-6 victory.
Jordan Howard was the only offense Wheelersburg (1-0) needed to secure the eight-point win. Howard finished the game with 100 rushing yards on 20 attempts while finding the endzone twice.
“Jordan Howard might have had a little chip on his shoulder,” Pirates head coach Rob Woodward said. ” … He had some extra fire tonight and you saw that. Whatever it was it worked, it worked and I’m so proud of him and the job that he did. I told him that’s the best football game I’ve ever seen him play.”
Howard, who is coming off a broken leg suffered in the playoff game last year against Ironton, enjoyed being the work horse.
“I like all of the pressure on my shoulders,” Howard said. “I want to have the ball in those situations. I couldn’t do it without all of my lineman, making all of those big holes easy to run through. It makes it an easy job for me.”
Howard is part of a senior class at Wheelersburg that has never tasted defeat at the hands of Ironton (0-1).
“It’s a great feeling,” Howard said. “We just talked about it in the locker room. It’s only a small group of people that’s actually been able to do that. But we’re not giving up now, we might see them again in the playoffs.”
Howard’s counterpart, D’Angelo Palladino led all rushers with 142 yards on 20 carries, 57 of which came on the lone score of the night for the Fighting Tigers in the third quarter. Despite Palladino’s productive night, Woodward was pleased with his defense’s performance.
“I told (the team) that’s one of the most physical Wheelersburg-Ironton games that I’ve seen one of our Wheelersburg team’s put together,” Woodward said. “Did we miss tackles? Absolutely. We’ve got to make sure not only are we flying in there and being as physical as we were but that we are wrapping … “
The mistakes also became complied in the second half for both squads as yellow laundry seemed to litter the field. Both teams combined to receive 19 penalties for 139 yards, 14 of those penalties were called after the intermission. Although Woodward wasn’t thrilled with the mistakes, he also realized the context of the situation.
“It’s the first game of 2015,” Woodward said. “We got some new guys in certain spots. And honestly, maybe we’ve got the same plays in that we had in during week eight, nine or 10 last year, and it’s week one. We threw a lot at our kids and we knew that as coaches, we recognized that and we’ve got to go back and evaluate … “
Despite the adversity, the Pirates never faltered, which is a trait that Woodward stressed to his team.
“That isn’t something we just worked on tonight,” Woodward said. “That’s something that we’ve worked on the last five years, the last eight months. That is something that we have been instilling in our kids for a long time. There are going to be things that happen to you. You can never get to high, you can never get to low; you need to stay even keel and make sure you’re doing your job all the time.”
The Pirates took the opening drive of the game and punched it in the endzone to quickly grab a 7-0 lead. After two lackluster runs to begin the drive, Kyle Davis rolled to his right on 3-and-11 and hit a stretched out Chasen Burke for a gain of 14 yards to keep the drive alive. After Jordan Howard helped guided the Pirates down the field with his legs, Davis found Burke again on an 18-yard connection after facing a 2nd-and-13 to give Wheelersburg a first-and-goal, which Jordan Howard easily erased with his one-yard touchdown scamper up the middle.
The Fighting Tigers scored even faster than Wheelersburg did in the opening frame. On the second play from scrimmage, Palladino took the 2-and-6 handoff, cut to his right and raced 57 yards for the touchdown (the extra point was blocked).
Facing a 4th-and-3 on Ironton’s 23-yard line, Howard broke to his right, kept his balance after briefly stumbling and scored to put Wheelersburg up 14-6 after the extra point.
Reach Chris Slone at 740-353-3101, ext 1930, or on Twitter @crslone.
Wheelersburg — 1 yd run by Howard (Lewis kick), 7:39
Ironton — 57 yd run by Palladino (PAT blocked), 11:13
Wheelersburg — 23 yd run by Howard (Lewis kick), 9:46
Passing — Wheelersburg: Davis 6-10-48; Ironton: Issac 6-13-38.
Rushing — Wheelersburg: Howard 20-100, Burk 6-19, Davis 7-6, Carmichael 2-6; Ironton: Palladino 20-142, Barker 10-27, Issac 6-25, Young 5-14.
Receiving — Wheelersburg: Burk 5-44, Howard 1-4; Ironton: Carey 4-25, Barker 2-13.
Wheelersburg 1-0; Ironton 0-1.