From the moment Dylan Bradford threw an interception on Portsmouth West’s first play from scrimmage, it seemed evident that Wheelersburg was going to be tough to beat in this week eleven rematch of Scioto County schools. That happened to be the case as the Pirates were able to coast to a 52-7 victory over the Senators at Ed Miller Stadium Saturday night.
“Our guys gave tremendous effort all night long” said Senators head coach Ben Johnson following their loss Saturday night, “Honestly we just turned the ball over way too many times in the first half. You cannot do that against an outstanding team like Wheelersburg because they’ll take advantage of it. We just got ourselves in too big of a hole to climb out of.”
Wheelersburg head coach Rob Woodward was proud of the way his team played in all facets of the game following their win Saturday night. “We executed tremendously, Ashton Clevenger ran hard tonight. All of our receivers and backs showed a selfless attitude tonight by blocking one for another and running hard, that’s the best I’ve ever seen a group of guys work together in that. I thought our offensive line did a great job as well. Defensively, we had pressure on the quarterback all night and had secondary guys that were right there that took the ball away a number of times.”
As mentioned by Johnson, the Senators turnovers plagued them the whole night. Their first two offensive drives of the night resulted in interceptions by Wheelersburg’s Dustin Darnell which set up touchdown runs by Trent Salyers and Evan Horsley to put Wheelersburg up 14-0 in the first quarter. Darnell finished the game with four tackles, three deflections, and two interceptions.
On the ensuing kick return following Horsley’s goal line touchdown rush, Senators senior running back Garrett Hurd took the kick to the house for an 89 yard kickoff return for a touchdown in what would ultimately be the Senators only points of the night, a credit to the incredibly aggressive Wheelersburg defense.
Woodward was right when he said Clevenger had a great night running the ball. The Pirate tailback was able to break a 47 yard run on their next drive before finding the goal line a few plays later as the first quarter ended giving his team the 21-7 lead going into the second quarter.
Jalen Miller would make his only field goal of the night from 24 yards out to give the Pirates the 24-7 lead early in the second quarter after Adam Vastine recovered the short squib kick following Clevenger’s touchdown rush.
Trey Carter intercepted another Bradford pass to set up Horsley’s second touchdown run of the night at the 7:08 mark of the second quarter. Clevenger decided to follow in Horsley’s footsteps and carry the ball into the endzone for his second touchdown on the ground to give the Pirates a 38-7 lead heading into the halftime break.
With the running clock to start the second half, Wheelersburg tacked on just two more scores: one on the ground from Makya Matthews from three yards out after the junior playmaker took the second half kickoff down to the three yard line, and the second from Daegan Glover from eight yards out with 2:39 left in the game to give the Pirates the 52-7 win over their rival Portsmouth West.
The Senators will lose twelve seniors to graduation following their 6-5 2018 campaign, and Coach Johnson knows those twelve guys will be hard to replace. “This has been a really fun group to work with. They’re a really close knit group, they’re all good buddies with each other. They play hard for each other, and it’s hard to describe, but they’re just a really good group to work with.”
Wheelersburg will advance to the regional semifinals of the Division V Region 20 race where they will face Jamestown Greeneview next Saturday night at a location that is still to be determined. Greeneview upset fifth seeded Cincinnati Madeira Saturday night 31-28 off a field goal in the last minute in regulation to earn to rights to play in week twelve vs. the Pirates.
“I haven’t had the chance to look at anything about them, so I don’t know anything about them” said Woodward when asked about next Saturday’s contest with Greeneview, “We’ll go back and exchange films tomorrow and evaluate this one and evaluate the next opponent and work to become a better version of ourselves next week. That’s all we can control is how we can improve as a team. Obviously, we have to put ourselves in the right position against our opponent, and I think we executed extremely well tonight.”
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT