THE PLAINS, Ohio — Zacciah Saltzman continued his onslaught on opposing defenses with 299 yards and seven touchdowns while leading the Athens Bulldogs to a 49-38 win over the Meigs Marauders Friday night at Rutter Field at Athens High School.
It is the second time in three games, the 5-11, 210 pound senior running back has scored seven touchdowns in a contest. The Bulldogs’ win over Meigs was the seventh straight over their TVC Ohio Division rivals to the south.
The Marauders received the opening kickoff and moved the ball with ease, driving 85 yards in 13 plays with Cody Bartrum scoring from two yards out with 7:43 in the first period. Bartrum added the extra points and Meigs held the early 8-0 advantage.
Bartrum then picked off a Brendan Sano pass on the first play from scrimmage for Athens, giving the Marauders the ball at the Bulldog 35. On first down, Bartrum hit Jared Kennedy over the middle at the 10, but the ball popped loose on contact and Nathan Gribble intercepted it for Athens.
Two other times in the first period, the Marauders had the ball inside Bulldog territory but were unable to score.
Saltzman tied the game for the Bulldogs two plays into the second period, as he took the snap out of the Wildcat formation and went up the middle, cut to the outside and went 84 yards for the score. Saltzman then carried it in for the extra points and the game was tied at 8-all with 11:10 to go in the half.
Saltzman added runs of two and 20 yards to increase the Bulldog lead to 22—8 with 5:21 left in the half. Gribble added the PAT kick on both of the scores.
Meigs just missed on an opportunity on the final play of the first half. Bartrum hit Sheets over the middle, but Kaileb lateraled the ball to Bailey Caruthers on the old hook and latter play. Bailey was tackled at the three by Gribble to end the threat.
Saltzman seemed to put the game away with 7:54 in the third on an 11-yard run capping off a two-play, 43-yard drive making it 29-8 Athens.
But the Marauders refused to roll over and play dead. Bartrum hit Colton Lilly from seven yards out as Lilly made a beautiful diving over the shoulder grab. Bartrum added the extra points and Meigs had pulled to within 29-16.
But Saltzman returned the ensuing kickoff 82 yards to the Marauder two. Two plays later Saltzman scored from a yard out for a 35-16 lead at the 2:36 mark.
But once again here came the Marauders, driving 74 yards in six plays with Bartrum finding Sheets from six yards out. Meigs went for the onside kick and with outstanding effort Grant Adams came up with the loose football for Meigs at the Athens 46. But the drive stalled and Athens took over on downs.
But three plays later Sheets picked off a Heath Wiseman pass and the Marauders were in business again. Three plays later Bartrum on a keeper scored from 7 yards out and suddenly it was a 35-28 game with 10:27 left in the contest.
But Saltzman scored from 55 yards out and one yard out, the last coming at the 3:42 mark to increase the Bulldog lead to 49-28.
Sheets scored for Meigs at the 2:31 mark of the contest from 10 yards out to close out the scoring and give the Bulldogs the 49-34 win.
“It was a tough loss” a disappointed Marauder coach Mike Bartrum commented after the contest. “But we have to jump back on the horse Monday and get prepared to play a very good Jackson team. Give Athens credit, their offensive line played outstanding. They outplayed us and out coached us.”
Saltzman led the winners with 299 yards in 36 carries, he also completed his only pass for 19 yards. Heath Wiseman added 39 yards in 15 carries. Sano was three of seven passing for 11 yards, Wiseman two of five for 35. Andy Kostival caught two for 42.
Bartrum led the Marauders on the ground with 76 yards in 21 tries, Sheets added 14 carries for 47. Bartrum was 27 of 41 for 328 yards on the night. Sheets pulled in 10 for 84, Lilly nine for 78, Zach Helton two for 52, Kennedy two for 28 and Caruthers three for 21.
Meigs drops to 5-2 and 3-1 in the TVC Ohio, while Athens is now 4-3 and 3-1 in conference. Meigs will host a strong Jackson team next week, while Athens travels to Wellston.
Dave Harris is a sports correspondent for Ohio Valley Publishing.