WHEELERSBURG The cannon at Ed Miller Stadium didn’t want to wait.
Late in the first half, Wheelersburg receiver Eric Lattimore sprinted toward his second touchdown and was still 10 yards from paydirt when he was greeted by the thunderous noise from the sideline.
The cannon stayed busy on Friday night as the Pirates unleashed a powder keg of speed and athletic ability on visiting Russell. Wheelersburg scored the first 28 points of the contest and pulled away from the Red Devils for a 35-16 victory.
Lattimore collected two touchdowns through the air and Carson Williams added three more on the ground for the Pirates.
Wheelersburg has a ceremonial ladder in the locker room that symbolizes a completed step in the team’s progression and success this season. Coach Rob Woodward said his offensive line deserved to hang the team towel one step higher.
“Carson Williams definitely had a night,” Woodward said. “He was part of our captain crew that hung the towel last week (against Chillicothe). We really relied on our offensive line. They hung the towel tonight.
“All those guys came out fresh and were able to do the things that they needed to do to create holes for Carson, who was really running hard,” he added. “I thought (quarterback) Bryson Stamper did a tremendous job when he was called on for those pass plays.”
The Pirates defensive had Russell on its heels in the opening moments of the contest. The Red Devils ended the first half with just 27 total yards and one first down.
“I told our guys that you won’t see speed like that until the state semifinals,” Maynard said. “It’s hard to simulate in practice. It’s one of the things we addressed at halftime. When you play people that are that fast and strong, it makes you take the necessary steps up front. ... It was tough for us to generate any consistency on offense.”
Woodward has seen plenty of growth in his team after Wheelersburg’s 40-6 defeat at Ironton in the season opener. Several layers had to adjust to different positions.
“It’s just getting more experience,” Woodward said. “We were able to take a little bit of time with those guys on the defensive line. They didn’t even know about some of our calls and alignments. Ethan Glover, Jake Darling and Josh Boggs are new on the line. We have really communicated with them on where they need to go. They are playing better assignment football.”
After a scoreless first quarter, Stamper found a wide-open Lattimore for an 18-yard TD reception to put Wheelersburg on the board first.
The Pirates started their next drive deep in Russell territory. Williams took a pitch from Stamper and waltzed into the end zone on a 3-yard scoring run. Lattimore took a short pass before halftime from Stamper, maneuvered around defenders and tallied his second TD catch 62 yards later.
Woodward applauded his defensive guys up front for giving the offense extra possessions in the first half.
“They are a little smaller, but they stay after it and they find the ball,” Woodward said. “I feel our linebackers communicate well with them and fill in the gaps. Hunter Thomas did a tremendous job at outside linebacker. Carson Williams and Eli Swords and the rest of the linebackers are just flying around and really creating havoc on their opponent.
“I thought we tackled really well,” he continued. “We kept telling them to win the one-on-one battles. We swarmed to the football. ... I thought our guys kept fighting the whole time.”
Fueled by the momentum in the first half, Woodward decided to gamble and boot an onside kick to open the final 24 minutes. The plan worked and culminated with another Williams touchdown run.
“It’s something that our coaches are always talking about,” Woodward said. “They are pushing me to do it from the first one. Our defense was playing really well. It was a chance for us to capitalize. It was executed perfectly by our guys.”
The Red Devils kept fighting. Nathan Totten booted a 38-yard field goal in the third quarter. Bradley Rose connected with his deep threats in the passing game. Doug Oborne showed off his moves as he found his way to the end zone after a 59-yard TD catch to start the final frame.
Carson Patrick raced past the Pirates secondary and Rose hit him in stride for a 71-yard scoring strike.
“It showed a lot of character and fight from our kids,” Maynard said. “As coaches, it gives us a lot of optimism in terms of how we move on this season. We have a short week. We turn around and play a good Lawrence County team.”
Russell (2-1) will meet the Dawgs on Thursday in Louisa. Andre Richardson-Crews led the Red Devils with 51 rushing yards.
Williams toted the ball 13 times for 121 yards. Glover added 86 yards on the ground for Wheelersburg (2-1).
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RUSSELL 0 0 3 13 — 16
WHEELERSBURG 0 21 7 7 — 35
W—Eric Lattimore 18 pass from Bryson Stamper (Braxton Sammons kick) 11:54
W—Carson Williams 3 run (Sammons kick) 4:36
W—E. Lattimore 62 pass from Stamper (Sammons kick) 1:43
W—Williams 4 run (Sammons kick) 9:10
R—Nathan Totten 38 field goal 5:41
R—Doug Oborne 59 pass from Bradley Rose (Totten kick) 11:49
R—Carson Patrick 71 pass from Rose (pass failed) 3:50
W—Williams 19 run (Sammons kick) 2:23
First Downs 6 20
Rushes-Yards 26-54 41-275
Comp-Att-Int 8-18-1 12-15-1
Passing Yards 157 151
Fumbles-Lost 2-1 3-2
Punts-Avg. 7-29.7 4-44.8
Penalties-Yards 7-45 5-55
Russell rushing: Richardson-Crews 13-51, Hartman 5-13, Rose 3-(-1), Rock 3-15, McDaniels 1-0, Team 1-(-4).
Wheelersburg rushing: Williams 13-121, Darling 4-8, Glover 10-86, E. Lattimore 2-3, Swords 11-54, Team 1-3.
Russell passing: Rose 8 of 18 for 157 yards.
Wheelersburg passing: Stamper 12 of 15 from 151 yards.
Russell receiving: Lykins 1-19, Patrick 2-73, Richardson-Crews 1-0, Oborne 2-61, Hartman 2-4.
Wheelersburg receiving: Clark 4-42, E. Lattimore 4-76, Thomas 2-18, Doerr 1-19, Williams 1-(-4).