JACKSON — The Wheelersburg Pirates, playing on the road and against a fellow tradition-rich program two divisions larger, pulled off —ALMOST —an impressive victory.
But unfortunately for the Pirates, they came up —literally and figuratively —a yard, or even mere inches, short.
That’s because the Jackson Ironmen outlasted Wheelersburg in overtime on Friday night, prevailing 21-20 in a hotly-contested non-league affair inside Jackson’s Alumni Stadium.
Both teams entered at 2-2, as the Pirates —plagued by turnovers in their three losses this season — lost three fumbles for the second straight game.
Last week, they had four fumbles and three lost in a 20-7 setback against Pikeville (Ky.), while they fumbled a half-dozen times and gave three away again to the Ironmen.
The first resulted in Jackson’s first touchdown on Wheelersburg’s opening drive —when Drew Bragg returned the pigskin 30 yards to put the Ironmen on the board only two minutes and 19 seconds in.
Ethan Crabtree converted all three of his extra-point kicks, but Wheelersburg battled back from one-touchdown deficits each time — all with Ethan Glover short touchdown runs of three yards, one yard and one yard.
The Pirates recovered an Ironmen fumble on Jackson’s 16-yard-line to set up the first score, as Eli Swords intercepted Evan Spires — with a 29-yard return to the goal line — to set up the second.
Glover’s second one-yard run, in overtime, made it 21-20 —but Braxton Sammons, successfully making his first two extra-point kicks, did not try a third.
Instead, Wheelersburg went for the two-point conversion and the overtime win, but Jackson’s Jacob Winters made the game-saving tackle on the running try.
It was Winters’ second significant play in overtime, as he also accounted for the go-ahead touchdown —an 11-yard pass to Cade Wolford to make it 21-14 with Crabtree’s extra point.
That was Jackson’s only other offensive score —aside from a Spires 17-yard pass to Eli Broermann late in the second quarter.
That made it 14-7 in favor of the Ironmen —as Glover twice tied the game late in the first (7-7) and third (14-14) periods, with Sammons making the extra-point kicks.
Speaking of Sammons, he had a 51-yard field-goal attempt on the final snap in regulation to end it and give Wheelersburg the walk-off win —but his Alumni Stadium record try clanged directly off the crossbar.
That gave the Ironmen a second life, and they made the stop on the Pirates’ two-point attempt in overtime.
The statistics were all so close —with Wheelersburg holding a 12-10 advantage in first downs, a 60-54 edge in plays from scrimmage, and a 180-124 differential in rushing yards.
Jackson had 100 passing yards to the Pirates’ 40, on 14 attempts apiece — as the Ironmen also overcame a dozen penalties for 104 yards.
The two teams combined for 12 punts, including seven by Jackson.
Wheelersburg’s Glover gained 60 yards on a dozen carries and his hat trick of touchdowns, as Cade Wolford was the leading rusher (63 yards on 20 carries) and receiver (75 yards on five receptions) for the Ironmen.
Eric Lattimore led the Pirates in rushing yards with 79 and in receiving yards with 23.
The Pirates return to the road, and open Southern Ohio Conference Division II play on Friday night, at 3-1 Minford.
* * *
Wheelersburg 7 0 7 0 6 — 20
Jackson 7 7 0 0 7—21
J — Drew Bragg, 30-yard fumble return (Ethan Crabtree kick), 9:41, 1st (7-0 J)
W — Ethan Glover, 3-yard run (Braxton Sammons kick), 2:35, 1st (7-7 tie)
J — Eli Broermann, 17-yard pass from Evan Spires (Ethan Crabtree kick), 1:47, 2nd (14-7 J)
W— Ethan Glover, 1-yard run (Braxton Sammons kick), :05, 3rd (14-14 tie)
J — Cade Wolford, 11-yard pass from Jacob Winters (Ethan Crabtree kick), OT (21-14 J)
W — Ethan Glover, 1-yard run (run failed), OT (21-20 J)
First downs 12 10
Scrimmage plays 60 54
Rushes-yards 46-180 40-124
Passing yards 40 100
Total yards 220 224
Cmp-Att-Int. 6-14-0 8-14-1
Fumbles-lost 6-3 2-1
Penalties-yards 5-40 12-104
Punts-Ave 5-44.2 7-33.7
RUSHING —Wheelersburg: Eric Lattimore 9-79, Ethan Glover 12-60 3TD, Eli Jones 9-20, Creed Warren 2-11, Eli Swords 3-11, Bryson Stamper 3-7, Jake Darling 2-3, Carson Williams 4-1, Derrick Lattimore 2-(-12); Jackson: Cade Wolford 20-63, Jacob Winters 11-38, Jacob Wood 1-19, Hunter Webb 2-8, Evan Spires 4-4, Eli Broermann 1-1, Team 1-(-9)
PASSING — Wheelersburg: Bryson Stamper 6-12-0-40, Eli Jones 0-2-0-0; Jackson: Evan Spires 6-7-0-84 TD, Jacob Winters 2-7-1-16 TD
RECEIVING— Wheelersburg: Eric Lattimore 3-23, Josh Clark 2-15, Casey Doerr 1-2; Jackson: Cade Wolford 5-75 TD, Eli Broermann 1-17 TD, Jacob Wood 1-5, Tristan Prater 1-3
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