GALLIPOLIS, Ohio — By air or by ground, it didn’t really matter to the Marauders.
The Meigs football team rolled to 490 yards of total offense — 271 passing and 219 rushing — on Friday night, as the Marauders opened their 2016 campaign with a 42-7 victory over non-conference host Gallia Academy, at Memorial Field.
The Marauders (1-0) marched 60 yards in six plays on the game’s opening drive, but Gallia Academy (0-1) sophomore Cory Call intercepted a pass in the endzone to keep Meigs off the board.
The Blue Devils went three-and-out on their first possession and punted the ball back to Meigs, which began its second drive on the GAHS 49.
Meigs covered 49 yards in four plays and 1:00 exactly, as Bailey Caruthers hauled in a 25-yard scoring pass from Cody Bartrum for the game’s first points. MHS senior Layne Acree kicked home the extra point and gave the Maroon and Gold a 7-0 lead with 6:34 left in the first quarter.
After Gallia Academy’s second straight three-and-out, Meigs setup shop on its own 46-yardline. The Marauder offense needed seven plays and 3:26 to cover the 54 yards and find paydirt. This time, MHS senior signal caller Cody Bartrum ran 13 yards for the score. Layne Acree’s kick was good and the Marauders led 14-0 with 1:29 left in the opening period.
The Blue Devils were forced to punt after a third straight three-and-out, but this time they pinned Meigs deep in its own territory, at the 18-yard line.
The Marauders went 82 yards in eight plays, as Cody Bartrum capped off the 3:03 drive with a 34-yard touchdown pass to junior Christian Mattox. The Maroon and Gold were unsuccessful on the point-after kick, but still led 20-0 with 8:16 left in the first half.
The Blue Devils’ first first down of the game came via a pass interference call on the first play of the ensuing drive. Five consecutive quarterback keepers by GAHS sophomore Justin McClelland gave Gallia Academy two more first downs and set the Blue and White up just eight yards from paydirt.
On second down from the MHS eight-yard line, Meigs junior Matthew Brown jumped in front of a bubble pass, intercepting it and returning the ball to the MHS 32.
From there, a 27-yard run by Meigs junior Lane Cullums, followed by a 41-yard pass play from Cody Bartrum to Zach Bartrum put the Marauders back in the endzone. Cullums ran in the two-point conversion, giving the Maroon and Gold a 28-0 advantage with 5:18 left until halftime.
GAHS was forced to punt after just three plays on its next drive, giving Meigs the ball at its own 37 with 3:04 on the clock. On the seventh play of the MHS drive, a pass from Cody Bartrum to Zach Helton put the Marauders on the GAHS four-yard line, but a personal foul sent Meigs back to the 19.
The Marauders lost three yards on their next run, but on third down, Cody Bartrum found Tyler Garretson for what would have been a touchdown, had Meigs not had an ineligible man down field. A false start then sent Meigs back to the GAHS 32.
On third down, Cody Bartrum found Bailey Caruthers for a 16-yard pass, cutting the distance to paydirt in half. Going for it on fourth down, Cody Bartrum was picked off in the endzone by Colton Campbell, leaving the halftime score 28-0 in favor of the Marauders.
A bit of bad luck hit the Blue Devils after halftime, as on their first play from scrimmage, the ball was fumbled and recovered by MHS senior Trae Hood.
Starting their drive on the GAHS 27, Meigs went to Cullums for back-to-back runs, the second of which went all the way to the endzone, but was called back for holding. However, the penalty didn’t haunt Meigs, as Zach Bartrum came up with a touchdown run on second down from the Gallia Academy 13-yard line. Acree’s kick split the uprights and gave Meigs a 35-0 lead.
Gallia Academy turned the ball over on downs after just four plays, falling one-yard shy of the first down at the GAHS 45. Meigs took just four plays to cover the distance needed, going ahead 42-0 on a 30-yard scoring pass from Cody Bartrum to T.J. Williams and an extra point kick by Acree.
With Meigs’ defensive starters out of the game, GAHS started the ensuing drive on its own 42. Passes by McClelland to Call and Wyatt Sipple gave the Blue Devils back-to-back first downs and the ball on the Meigs 34. McClelland picked up nine yards on a pair of quarterback keepers, and on third down from the MHS 25, Gallia Academy junior Clay Plymale broke loose and found paydirt. The extra point kick by Ty Howell was good, making the margin 42-7 with 2:11 left in the third.
Gallia Academy’s first score of the night was the game’s final points, as neither team even managed to make it into the red zone in the final 14 minutes of play.
“It took us a few years, but we’re finally catching up to the speed of the game,” fifth-year Meigs head coach Mike Bartrum said. “When the game slows down for you its a good thing. I feel like they’re just going out and reacting. They’re not thinking anymore and they’re not worried about their steps, because they have confidence.”
The Marauder offense was led by 2015 AP Southeast District Offensive Player of the Year Cody Bartrum, who was 15-of-22 passing for 240 yards and four touchdowns, while rushing for 86 yards and one score on five attempts. Cory Cox and Landon Acree each completed one pass in the game, for 18 and 13 yards respectively.
Cullums finished with 79 yards on 12 carries, Helton added 25 yards on two attempts, Garretson marked 24 yards on three tries, Zach Bartrum chipped in with one rush for 13 yards and a score, while Landon Acree ran four times for a total of two yards.
Helton hauled in five passes for 38 yards, Caruthers added 60 yards and one score on three receptions, while Zach Bartrum had 58 yards and one score on three receptions of his own. Jared Kennedy caught two passes for 20 yards, Mattox had one 34-yard touchdown grab, Williams had one 30-yard TD catch, while Landon Acree caught one 18-yard pass and Brentten Young added one 13-yard catch.
“Coach Willford has done a great job calling the plays, and the kids are executing,” Coach Bartrum said of his offense. “I don’t want to take anything away from Gallipolis, because they came out and hit us. In the first quarter they were right there, but our kids kept fighting and believing in what we’re doing. We still have some plays that we need to do better.”
As a team, Meigs had 20 first downs, 14 more than GAHS. MHS had two turnovers and punted just once, while Gallia Academy had three turnovers and punted four times.
“We knew we had to play a good Meigs team,” GAHS head coach Josh Riffe said. “They’re well coached, they have good players and a veteran quarterback. You can always count on them to make the right decisions and do the right things with the ball.”
McClelland led the Blue Devils by passing for 52 yards on 8-of-14 attempts, with one interception. McClelland ran 15 times for a net of 29 yards. Plymale was Gallia Academy’s leading rusher with 32 yards and a score on four attempts.
Sipple led all GAHS receivers with 22 yards on three catches, while Campbell had seven yards on two grabs. Call had 13 yards, Plymale had nine and Boo Pullins marked one yard on one reception each.
“We have a lot of young guys playing,” Riffe said. “More important than finding the bad things is finding the good things to point out, because you don’t want this loss to carry over and cost you another game.”
Call and Campbell’s interceptions highlighted the GAHS defensive effort, while Meigs’ defense was charged by interceptions by Brown and Wesley Jones. For MHS, Hood had 1.5 sacks and a fumble recovery, while Jimmy Porter had one sack and Riley Ogdin had a half of a sack.
The Marauders will have their home opener next week against Amanda-Clearcreek, which suffered a 20-19 loss to visiting Lakewood on Friday.
“Amanda-Clearcreek is a powerhouse,” Coach Bartrum said. “Coach (Scott) Hinton will have those kids going. We got lucky and won up there last year, but now we have to put our hard-hats on and get ready.”
This is Meigs’ first win on Memorial Field since 1977, and the first time MHS has won two-straight against the Blue Devils since claiming victories 1978 and 80.
The Blue Devils will play on Memorial Field again next week as in-county rival River Valley visits for the second annual OVB Community Bowl, on Saturday.
“Whether we win or lose, we only get a few hours to be excited or be down before we move on to the next week,” Riffe said. “Our big thing is, don’t let this stick with us. Tomorrow morning when we come in to lift and and watch film we will already have our eyes set on River Valley.”
River Valley defeated Eastern 51-27 at home on Friday.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.