WHEELERSBURG- Heading into Friday, the Waverly Tigers had not won at Ed Miller Stadium in 20 years. Despite a valiant fourth quarter comeback, the Tigers added another year to that streak.
In a matchup with major Southern Ohio Conference Division II implications, Waverly fell short to the Pirates 21-14 in their first loss of the season. It was the first time the Tigers had been held under 35 points this year.
Before the fourth quarter, the Tigers showed little signs of life on the offensive side of the ball. In fact, their defense had to make some big stops and get a few breaks to keep the game within range.
Wheelersburg built a 13-0 lead through its run game, while stifling any attempts for the Tigers to have success on the ground or through the air. Collectively, the Pirates gained 278 rushing yards — more than 100 yards above what the Tigers’ defense has shown.
Its run game, led by quarterback Eli Jones and running backs Derrick Lattimore, Eric Lattimore, and Ethan Glover, dominated with yards and both time of possession. Through the first quarter, the Pirates held the ball for 9:58 of the 12-minute quarter.
Yet despite the tilted advantage, the Tigers still only trailed 3-0 at halftime — embracing a bend-don’t-break philosophy. Waverly made a fourth and goal stop before a Braxton Sammons’ kick had plenty of distance but went wide right.
Following an inconsequential drive from Waverly to start the third, Eric Lattimore broke a 60-yard punt return that brought the Pirates’ lead to 10-0. Another Sammons’ 39-yard kick brought the tally to 13-0.
The fourth quarter was running back Jase Hurd’s time to shine. Racking up more than 100 yards in the second half alone, the sophomore tallied both scores. In total, he had more than 130 rushing yards in the game.
After a mostly lifeless offensive showing, the Tigers scored on two consecutive drives and took a 14-13 lead with 8:14 remaining after the extra point just made its way over the crossbar.
Unfortunately for Waverly, that lead, which it fought so hard for, was short-lived.
Only one of the Pirates’ prior pass attempts came with an 8-yard completion. That was until 7:12 remained in the game. Eric Lattimore put on another touch to his multi-versed performance by catching a 38-yard touchdown pass from Jones.
The Tigers’ again pushed the ball down the field, but could not muster enough late game magic. With just 2:25 left, Waverly could not convert on 4th down from the Pirates’ 21-yard-line.
Wheelersburg did not manage a first down on its response, but ran the clock down to 0:36 after downing the punt on Waverly’s 11-yard-line.
With no timeouts remaining, Wade Futhey tried to find open receivers and moved the ball about 20 yards before one last final attempt. Four seconds remained before Futhey’s last toss went out of bounds.
He finished his day going 20 for 38 for 163 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions.
With the loss, the Tigers moved to 6-1 overall and 2-1 in the SOC. Waverly returns home to face Minford next Friday.
Contact Patrick Keck at email@example.com or by phone at 740-947-2149, ext. 300431 and follow him on Twitter @pkeckreporter.