Updated Wed, Oct 24, 2012 3:38 pm
The plunging temperatures and first half rain made for a very sloppy game at Alumni Stadium in Jackson, Ohio, but this time of the year separates the boys from the men. Lead by head coach Ron Hinton, the Chillicothe Cavaliers spoiled Senior Night for the Ironmen, outlasting the home squad 14-13.
From the opening drive, the Cavaliers made it clear that they wanted to wear out the Jackson defense by keeping the ball on the ground. Juniors Ryan Mathis and Markel Cain lead the Cavaliers offense, accounting for a combined 78 yards on 13 carries. Mathis, who also serves as the Cavalier’s quarterback, finished off the first half with an inspired 28-yard touchdown run.
With a relatively inexperienced quarterback in Steven Kearns, the Ironmen also emphasized their ground game. Kearns, along with sophomore Derek Rafferty, had no choice but to run hard, racking up 113 yards on 25 carries between the two of them. Sophomore running back Gabe Griffiths also contributed 19 yards to the effort, including a 12-yard scamper into the endzone in the first quarter.
With both offenses struggling to move the ball, the field position battle proved to be key. Punters Jimmy Voiles and Jacob Weber, from Jackson and Chillicothe respectively, proved to be two of the most important players in the game, pinning both offenses in their own territory time and time again.
Though the competition on the field was passionate, it was not the most important part of the evening. Jackson fans held Blackout Cancer Night in order to raise money for P.J Blaire, a loyal Jackson fan who is currently fighting the deadly disease.
The community has rallied behind P.J, collecting nearly $20,000 including a generous $500 donation from the Chillicothe community.
Though the Ironmen slipped to 5-4, and out of playoff contention, they have inspired P.J as he continues to fight. He will surely be cheering on the boys in red as they finish up their season at Gallipolis next week.
With tonight’s gritty victory, the Cavaliers improved to 3-6 on the year. They will be playing for pride as they take on Portsmouth at home to finish off the season.