Martins Ferry eliminated by Wheelersburg

COLUMBUS — No comeback this time, only Miller time.

Martins Ferry had made a habit of falling behind and then staging dramatic rally after dramatic rally to pull out victory after victory.

Such wasn’t the case here Saturday night at Hamilton Township High School’s Alumni Field.

Wheelersburg (11-1) scored at will in the first half and never looked back in handing the second-seeded Purple Riders a 45-0 loss in a Division V, Region 17 semifinal.

“We just ran into a very good football team that we helped out a little,” veteran Martins Ferry head coach Dave Bruney said. “It wouldn’t surprise me that if Wheelersburg can beat (Columbus Bishop) Hartley, that they will win the state championship.”

The Pirates, the No. 3 seed in the regional, wasted little time in showing who was boss as they took the opening kickoff and marched 65 yards on a half-a-dozen plays. The Miller’s — quarterback Eddie and wideout Dylan (no relation) teamed for the final 11 on a post pattern. Daylor Lewis added the extra point and it was 7-0 with just 1:34 elapsed.

Wheelersburg pulled off a perfectly executed onside kick that was recovered by Cole Cunningham at the Purple Riders’ 48.

However, that drive was snuffed out by a Marcus Sutton interception.

With Uncle Mo on its side, Martins Ferry moved the ball from its own 25 to the Wheelersburg two where it had first-and-goal only to see a fumble wipeout that golden scoring opportunity as Sam Hall fell on the loose ball at the 4.

“We answered their touchdown with a turnover and drive inside the one, but we turned the ball over and against a good team like that, you can’t do that. They don’t need any help,” Bruney allowed.

Wheelersburg went the distance in just three plays to make it 14-0. Eddie Miller took a quarterback sneak 56 yards and then found Tyler Claxon for the final 42 as Claxon continually broke tackle after tackle. Lewis’ PAT made it 14-0 with 2:41 on the first-quarter clock.

“That was a classic example of us not tackling in space,” Bruney said. “We talked about that all week.”

Another Purple Rider fumble set the Pirates up at the Martins Ferry 35. It only took the Scioto Countians three plays to cover the distance, with Austin May taking a handoff and sweeping left end from 18 yards out on the first play of the second quarter. Lewis was once again perfect on the PAT, making it 21-0.

Dylan Miller ran in from three yards out and Camron Parsley crashed over from a yard out to make it 35-0 at the half following Lewis’ two PATs.

Things didn’t get any better for the Purple in the third quarter as Wheelersburg took advantage of a foiled fake punt to up the margin.

Dylan Miller went in from three yards out to make it 42-0.

The only scoring in the fourth quarter came off the foot of Lewis in the form of a 29-yard field goal.

Martins Ferry could only muster 163 yards of total offense, with 74 of that coming on the initial drive of the game.

“I’m kind of at a loss for words,” Bruney admiTted. “We don’t usually play that bad.”

Eddie Miller accounted for 368 yards of total offense, with 250 of that coming through the air where he was 15 of 20.