Bailey Thacker
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Tyler Harris

Tyler is a contributing writer for SOSA with previous work for the Chillicothe Gazette. He resides in Ashland, Ky., bleeds Maize and Blue (Go Blue), is an avid outdoorsman and is always up for a good sports debate.

In latest rivalry installment, Ironton inches by Wheelersburg

The Tigers earn a close win in the newest installment of one of Ohio's best rivalries.

Tyler Harris, Staff Writer

Southern Ohio Sports Authority is presented by OhioHealth.

IRONTON — There are few things in this world as sweet as the Friday night lights. 

The energy, the passion, the fans, and the players laying it all on the line with one goal in mind: winning. 

That’s what every fan got on Friday at Tank Memorial Stadium as the rivalry between Ironton and Wheelersburg wrote another chapter — this one ending with the Tigers outlasting the Pirates by a 17-14 final in another instant classic. 

Ironton’s Shaun Terry scored a touchdown and had two interceptions in Friday’s season-opening win over Wheelersburg.
CREDIT: Baylee Harris/SOSA

“Losing all of those seniors from last year, mainly at skill positions was tough. But we came back and I felt we have more depth,” Ironton’s Noah Patterson said. “They set a high standard and we have to continue building off of that. We’ll gradually grow as a team and guys will continue to step up like they did tonight.”  

As usual, the two brought out the absolute worst in each other, in both good and bad ways. Physical, nasty defensive play and a chess match on the offensive side while waiting to see who blinks first took center stage.

The game started about as well as it could have for the Tigers (1-0). They picked off a Pirate pass at the one-yard line, and wasted no time drawing first blood.

On their third play from scrimmage, Shaun Terry took the handoff and raced 86 yards up the sideline for a touchdown to put the Tigers up 7-0 with 4:24 to play in the first quarter. 

“He’s a really good athlete,” Ironton coach Trevon Pendleton said of Terry. “He’s a young kid, but he is just scratching the surface of what he can be.”

PHOTOS: Images from Ironton’s win over Wheelersburg

Four plays later, the Tigers’ offense took the field for the second time and it ended much like the first, this time with a 29-yard touchdown scamper from Zayne Williams, putting the lead to 14-0 as the first quarter came to an end. 

It appeared as if Ironton was in for a rout. But the Pirates (0-1) had other ideas.  

Wheelersburg some momentum after forcing and recovering a fumble early in the second, setting up Braylon Rucker’s touchdown pass to Devon Lattimore from 11 yards out. 

Fast forward to two drives later, trailing 14-7, the Pirates got the ball back and capitalized as Landon Hutchinson punched it into the end zone from a yard out to tie the game at 14-14 heading to the break. 

The second half was purely a defensive slugfest as both units dug in and made it nearly impossible to find any breathing room. But Ironton opened the half with a long 13-play drive that was capped off by a 24-yard field goal from David Fields, giving Ironton a 17-14 advantage.

The Pirates’ next three offensive drives ended in two punts and a third interception of the night, giving the Tigers a chance to put the game away. But penalties continued to erase big plays, keeping Wheelersburg in the fight with under five minutes to play. 

The Pirates had one final chance with a minute left and 67 yards between the offense and the end zone. That’s when the Tigers dug in once more and leaned on their experience to get one final stop, allowing themselves to walk away with a victory in their back pockets.

“I’ll be honest, we have a great group of leaders,” Pendleton said of his seniors. “They have been forged in the fire and have a ton of experience. When things get tough, they know how to dig down deep and our guys rose to the occasion.”

Statistically for the Tigers, Bailey Thacker did the heavy lifting, carrying the ball 14 times for 79 yards. Terry had 109 total offensive yards alongside a touchdown and an interception, defensively. Williams also had seven rushes for 49 yards and a score.

Wheelersburg leaned on Creed Warren, who toted the rock 11 times for 53 yards. Devon Lattimore had a game-high six catches for 49 yards and a score while Landon Hutchinson also found pay dirt.

Ironton returns to action next Saturday, hosting Jackson, while Wheelersburg welcomes Archbishop McNicholas to town on Friday.


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