WHEELERSBURG – Braxton Sammons boomed a 45-yard field goal as time expired to send the game between his Wheelersburg Pirates and visiting Ashland into overtime.
Then the 5-11 sophomore drilled the extra point in OT to propel Wheelersburg to a 34-33 win for the Pirates first victory of the 2019 season after an 0-2 start, the program’s first such start since 2010.
“I can’t say enough about the team victory our kids had tonight,” said Wheelersburg coach Rob Woodward following the win. “And when I say team, I mean every single one of our players. Our scout team players to our starters, everyone who stepped on that field tonight made an impact.”
Makya Matthews tied the game for Wheelersburg in overtime when he scampered into the end zone from 13-yards out. That set the stage for Sammons’ game-winning extra point.
To start the extra period, Ashland took a 33-27 lead when Blake Hester went in untouched from one-yard out on a three-play drive.
The Class 3A state ranked Tomcats, who entered the game undefeated at 3-0, opted to go for two points. Hester was stuffed at the line by a host of Pirates.
That’s when Matthews and Sammons came through in the clutch for their first win of the season to avoid the 0-3 start.
“What an amazing job he [Sammons] did for us tonight,” Woodward acknowledged, “Along with our sophomore snapper and sophomore holder. We stubbed our toe on some extra points early in the year, but all of those guys have put in the time and the work to help us in that area tonight, including our guys up front.”
Ashland trailed 24-13 after Sammons booted a 25-yard field goal with 8:34 to play in the fourth quarter and after a lengthy weather-delay that sent both teams into the locker room.
The Tomcats put together a six-play 40-yard drive that ended with Keontae Pittman went in from six-yards out.
On their next possession, Ashland converted a fourth and 15 pass play from Jake Gregg to J.T. Garrett that took the ball to the one-yard line. Hester scored on the next play and the Tomcats added the two-point conversion for the three-point advantage with 44 seconds left in the game.
Wheelersburg faced a fourth and 14 with 23 seconds to go in regulation when quarterback Aaron Masters found Mathews for a 16-yard gain.
A pass interference aided Wheelersburg’s field position with 1.2 seconds left on the clock that placed the ball within field goal range for Sammons to tie the game. He came through in dramatic fashion at Ed Miller Stadium.
Ashland got on the board in the first quarter when Hester scored on an eight-yard run with 3:27 to go.
They added to the lead when Hester picked off a Masters’ floating pass and returned it 99 yards for the touchdown.
Masters, a 5-11 sophomore, settled in and found his rhythm. He spotted Matthews on the left side and connected for a 70-yard touchdown pass to close the gap to 13-7.
With 21.2 seconds before the half, Masters found L.J. Payton for a 19-yard touchdown pass to take the 14-13 lead into the break.
Wheelersburg was forced to a three and out to begin the third period. Evan Horsley punted the ball and an Ashland receiver touched the ball as it scooted past him bound for the end zone. Senior Seth Denney was alert and pounced on the ball to give the Pirates a 21-13 lead.
“So many guys played a great game for us,” Woodward said. “Seth Denney making that huge special teams play, Caleb Johnson made the stop on the two point try in overtime, Aaron Masters hooking up with LJ Payton for their touchdown early on, Makya Matthews, battling through an injury, with two touchdowns including the one in overtime. Brady Warner taking on double teams all night, Blake Richardson on the edge defensively, Jackson Kouns in the middle defensively, Eli Swords, a sophomore, might have led us in tackles from his back side safety position.”
Masters finished the game with 162 yards in the air and two touchdowns and completed 14 of 25 passes.
Matthews, who gained 45 yards on the ground, also had 124 yards receiving.
Wheelersburg, 1-2, travels to Greenup County (2-2) next week in a renewed rivalry game.
|Yards (Rushing-Passing)||219 (130-89)||293 (116-177)|
|Time of Possession||24:15||23:45|
|Penalties||7 for 84 yards||4 for 59 yards|
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