Pirates top Madison, advance to state semis
HILLIARD, OHIO — Defending state champion Wheelersburg earned its third trip to the state semifinals in the last four seasons Saturday when the Pirates defeated Middletown Madison 24-16 in the Ohio Division V, Region 20 championship game at Hilliard Darby High School.
The Mohawks (12-1) took a 6-0 lead on a 45-yard touchdown pass by Mason Whiteman with 2:59 left in the first quarter. The Pirates (12-1) used trickery in taking the lead, as Evan Horsley’s pass to Chase Stidham on a fake punt gave Wheelersburg the ball at the Madison 14, setting up Horsley’s 1-yard touchdown plunge at 9:39 of the second quarter to make it 7-6. The Pirates increased their lead to 14-6 on a 14-yard TD run by Makya Matthews, after a field goal attempt was nullified by a running into the kicker penalty on Madison. The scoring drive was highlighted by a one-handed catch by Tanner Holden on a pass from Matthews to the Mohawks’ 25. Trent Salyers hit Matthews with a 50-yard touchdown strike 1:42 before halftime to give Wheelersburg a 21-6 lead, then added a Jalen Miller field goal for a 24-6 halftime lead.
Salyers was called for intentional grounding in the end zone for a safety that pulled Madison within 24-8 and Noah Lehman returned the ensuing free kick for a touchdown. Mason Whitman’s two-point conversion made it 24-16 with 7:22 left in the third quarter. The game ended with Madison at the Wheelersburg 6-yard line.