WELLSTON, Ohio — After two straight subpar performances, the Meigs Marauders ended a two-game losing streak and defeated the Wellston Golden Rockets 50-38 Friday night in Jackson County.
The win allows the Marauders to stay alive in the TVC Ohio title hunt. Meigs will host Alexander next Friday and the Spartans have already clinched at least a tie for the title, but Meigs can force a two-way tie for the championship with a win.
The Marauder offense rolled up a season-high 595 yards on the night, and a rock solid performance by the Meigs defense in the second half powered the Maroon and Gold.
The first half was a back and forth contest, with the Golden Rockets rolling up 338 total yards. But in the second half, Meigs dominated holding the Golden Rockets to just two total yards in 17 plays and only one first down.
Meigs received the opening kickoff and quickly went to work putting together a 55-yard, 10-play drive and Lane Cullums gave Meigs the early lead with a two-yard run. Cody Bartrum added the extra points for an 8-0 Marauder lead at 8:15 mark of the first period.
The Golden Rockets came right back, however, with an impressive drive of their own, driving 59 yards in five plays with Hunter Whalen going the final two yards. Forrest Hale added the extra points at the 3:59 mark to tie the game at eight.
Bartrum scored the first of his three touchdowns on a three-yard keeper, and then hit Kaileb Sheets for the extra points and a 16-8 Marauder lead with 1:30 left in the first period. The score was set up by a Cullums 49-yard scamper up the middle to the Wellston 23.
The Golden Rockets were on the drive to end the first period, and on the second play of the second period Hale scored from 10 yards out. Hale also tied the game at 16 with the extra points.
Just four plays later, Meigs took the lead when Sheets went the distance from 63 yards out. The extra point was no good, but Meigs was on top 22-16 with 10:20 in the half.
Wellston’s outstanding quarterback Bryadon Womeldorf scored from 48 yards on a keeper, and Hale gave the Golden Rockets the 24-22 lead with the extra points with 8:32 left in the half.
Both teams then threatened, with Meigs driving to the Golden Rocket 39 before giving the ball up on downs. Wellston then drove to the Meigs 27, but Womeldorf fumbled after picking up seven yards and Colton Atkinson recovered for Meigs.
The Marauders drove 78 yards in eight plays with Bartrum going over from the three to give the Marauders a 28-24 lead with 1:35 remaining.
The offensive fireworks weren’t over however, as Bartrum’s score was the first of three in the final 1:35 of the half. On the next play, Nick Cox ripped off a 58-yard dash to the Meigs six. On the next play, Hale scored from six yards out. Hale’s extra point run gave the Golden Rockets a 32-24 lead with 1:08 left in the half.
There was plenty of time for the Marauder offense. On the first two plays, Bartrum found Sheets for 30 and six yards. And on the third play, Bartrum’s pass was slightly under thrown, but Colton Lilly made an excellent play coming back for the ball and stepped in front of the Wellston defensive back to pull it in for a 23-yard touchdown play.
Sheets added the extra points and the Marauders went into the locker room at the half on top 36-32.
Meigs increased the lead to 44-32 at the 6:39 mark of the third period, when Jared Kennedy slipped past the Golden Rocket defense and hauled in a beautiful pass from Bartrum and took it to the house 70 yards for the score. Bartrum once again added the extra points.
The Marauder defense was making plays containing in the second half, containing the speedy Womeldorf, Hale and Cox. Several times in the final half Womeldorf had to be helped to his feet after being hit by the Maroon and Gold defense before leaving the game for good in the fourth period with an injury.
On the third play of the fourth period, Sheets gave the Marauders more breathing room with a six-yard touchdown to increase the lead to 50-32 with 10:32 left in the contest.
Wellston’s defense scored the game’s final touchdown with in the contest when Bartrum had the ball pop loose and Daivon Newell picked it out of the air and dashed 63 yards for the score to make the final 50-38.
In the final eight minutes of the contest, the Golden Rockets ran one play and that was the final play of the contest, with the Marauders running 16.
“Give Wellston credit. They played a good tough hard game. We made some changes on our defensive scheme at the half. Give credit to coaches Olexa, Willford, Swann and Knight and the rest of the coaches for making the right changes,” Marauder Coach Mike Bartrum said after the contest. “Lane (Cullums) stepped up in relief of Trae Hood and did an outstanding job for us. This week with the injury to Trae, we moved Lane to tailback and used Colton Atkinson at fullback and he did an excellent job. We have one final game next week and it’s a big one with Alexander, so we will start getting ready for them.”
Meigs picked up 287 yards on the ground with two players going over the 100 yard mark. Cullums gained a career high 125 yards in 21 carries, Sheets added 110 in 13 tries, Bartrum chipped in with 43 in 13 carries.
Bartrum was 18-of-24 in the air for 308 yards and a pair of scores. Lilly caught seven for 81, Sheets six for 79, Zach Helton two for 45, Bailey Caruthers two for 32 and Kennedy one for 70.
Cox led the Rockets with 122 yards in 13 tries, Womeldorf added 97 in 16 carries, but in the second half he carried five times for minus 20 yards. Hale added 65 in eight tries. Womeldorf was 6-of-6 passing for 43 yards. Cody Price caught three for 26.
Meigs is now 6-3 on the season and 4-1 in the TVC Ohio. The Marauders will try for the co-championship next week against Alexander. Wellston drops to 4-5 overall and 1-4 in the TVC Ohio.
Dave Harris is a sports correspondent for Ohio Valley Publishing.