ROCKSPRINGS, Ohio — Kaileb Sheets and Cody Bartrum each scored a pair of touchdowns, which helped the Meigs Marauders end an eight-game losing skid to Gallia Academy by defeating the Blue Devils 26-12 Friday night at Holzer Field/Farmers Bank Stadium.
Sheets, who returned to the field where he played his first two years of high school ball, had quite a homecoming. The senior rushed 12 times for 175 yards, caught four passes for 71 yards, returned three kicks for 39 yards, and also threw in an interception for good measure on defense.
The win allowed the Marauders to capture the first ever “Battle of the Border” trophy presented by Holzer Health Systems. The traveling trophy will go to the winner of the game between the two schools each year.
Both teams came up with big play on defense in the early going. Meigs drove to the Gallia Academy 12-yard line on the Marauders first drive, but a fumble on the exchange from center allowed GAHS senior Anthony Sipple to pounce on the loose ball for the Blue Devils.
Gallia Academy then went on the march, driving to the Meigs 18-yard line. The MHS defense forced a turnover on downs after a Kole Carter pass to Matt Bailey gained three yards on fourth and 10.
On the first play of the ensuing drive, Sheets took a handoff up the middle and weaved through traffic — going 85 yards for the score. Bailey Caruthers had his kick blocked but the Marauders held the early 6-0 lead with 22 seconds left on the clock in the first period.
The Maroon and Gold made it 14-0 at the half when Cody Bartrum hit Sheets from 38 yards out. Bartrum added the extra points with 2:35 remaining in the half.
Meigs increased the lead to 20-0 as they took the second half kickoff and went on an eight play, 61-yard drive. Bartrum kept it from 13 yards out for the score at the 9:29 mark of the third period.
Meigs held the Blue Devils to a four-and-out, but the Marauders turned the ball over at their own 28 with Garrett Burns recovering the ball for the Blue and White. Eight plays later, Carter scored on a quarterback keeper from two yards out. The kick was no good, but the visitors had pulled to within 20-6 at the 8:21 mark of the third period.
Gallia Academy cut the lead to 20-12 after another Meigs fumble was recovered by Brett Hivley at the Marauder 35. Seven plays later, Carter scored again on a quarterback run from three yards out. The two-point conversion pass failed, and the Blue Devils trailed 20-12 with 8:21 left.
Meigs took the kickoff and went on a 10 play, 78-yard drive that ate 5:47 off the clock. Bartrum was pressured in the backfield on second and goal, but the junior quarterback tucked the ball and ran it in from 10 yards out with 2:59 left and iced the victory, giving the Marauders their first win over Gallia Academy since 1997.
Sheets led all rushers with 175 yards in just 12 tries. Bartrum added 43 in nine carries and Trae Hood 17 in seven tries. Bartrum was 11-of-18 in the air for 140 yards, Sheets had four receptions for 71 yards, and Caruthers caught three for 21.
Carter had an outstanding game for the Blue Devils as the senior quarterback carried 33 times for 100 yards. Carter was 9-of-19 in the air for 96 yards with a pair of interceptions. Bailey caught four passes for 55 yards.
“Meigs has a good football team,” second-year GAHS head coach and former Marauder assistant coach Josh Riffe said after the game. “They are well coached, we just need to fix our mistakes and get better. Kole (Carter) really played well tonight for us, he has a huge heart and battles out there. It’s tough coaching against one of your closest friends.”
“Overall a win is a win,” third-year Marauder coach Mike Bartrum said. “I’m not happy with the fumbles and the turnovers. When you play against a good friend, it’ tough. We just need to cut down on mistakes and get better.”
Gallia Academy will play county rival River Valley next Saturday, while Meigs travels to Amanda-Clearcreek for a first-ever matchup against the longtime state power Aces.
Dave Harris is a sports correspondent for Ohio Valley Publishing.