It wasn’t the “Thrilla in Manilla”, but Jonathan Alder delivered a 330-pound punch play after play. More sting than bling, the Pioneers defeated Jackson 28-7 in a heavyweight battle between two D-III, Region 12 unbeatens in second round playoff action Friday night.
Video by Alex Sator
Jonathan Alder keeps perfect record in tact, hands Jackson its first loss
By Tim Langevin
LOGAN – It wasn’t the “Thrilla in Manilla”, but Jonathan Alder delivered a 330-pound punch play after play.
More sting than bling, the Pioneers defeated Jackson 28-7 in a heavyweight battle between two D-III, Region 12 unbeatens in second round playoff action Friday night.
Alder coach of six seasons, Steve Coate congratulated his prize OL Max Pollom at mid-field, “We are gonna ride you the rest of the way. Great job. Get rested. Be ready.”
Recruited heavily by Wisconsin, Indiana, Toledo and others, Pollom said, “Living the dream. It’s what every kid growing up playing football dreams about. Going undefeated and winning a state chanpionship. We got to get ready to play next week. Be ready for the challenge because each week gets tougher and tougher.”
The Ironmen were against the ropes much of the game as Alder jabbed down field with an incessant ground attack behind the blocking of Pollom. Derritt Potts was the beneficiary with 83 yards on 19 carries and one TD. The senior micro-back has rushed for 1,614 yards and 19 TDs on the season.
Alder QB Nate Squires reciprocated with two devastating blows, a 60-yard TD strike to Alex Randall in the first quarter and a 25-yard TD pass to Cameron Megger in the second quarter to build a 21-0 advantage. Squires was just 3-of-5 for 100 yards this game, but has thrown for 990 yards and 14 TDs on the year.
Squires said, “I knew this would be a battle, but I felt confident we could put up points…We do alittle of everything on offense: wing-t, spread, and power formations. But I prefer to run over pass.”
Squires showed his deceptive speed with 56 yards on seven carries. The senior has rushed for 637 yards and four TDs on the season.
Jackson QB Austin Osborne, no relation to Ozzie, engineered a long scoring drive before half to cut the margin 21-7. Drew Ervin capped it with a two-yard plunge. Ervin finished with 138 yards on 29 carries and concluded the season with 1,238 yards and 18 TDs.
Jackson coach Andy Hall said, “We out-gained them in yardage and first downs, but we kept shooting ourselves in the foot with penalties, sacks, bobbled snaps…This senior class put Jackson on the map big time. They accomplished great things as a group. It was a great year, despite the loss.”
The Ironmen entered this contest averaging 41.4 points and 341 yards per game. However, this night Jackson was limited to seven points and 261 total yards.
The Alder defense has pitched five shutouts and allow their opponents 8.1 points a game.
“We expect it from our defense,” Coate said. “That defensive stop in the second half was huge.”
Indeed. Jackson marched 49 yards in 14 plays to the Alder 19-yard-line late in the third quarter. Ervin ran for a hard-fought 22 yards and Osborne added 20 yards, but on third down and 11 yards to go, LB Luke Foster sacked Osborne for an 11-yard loss. End of threat.
Osborne, a transfer from nearby Wellston High School, a team knocked out in the first round by D-IV power Kenton, struggled this night, completing 5-of-11 passes for 37 yards and rushing for 64 yards. The Southeastern Ohio Athletic League CO-POY with Ervin, entered the contest with over 1,000 yards passing and 1,000 yards rushing with 32 scores. The senior standout also returned a kickoff 95 yards and a punt 83 yards for touchdowns this fall.
After a scoreless third quarter, Alder added a finishing punch with a 67-yard, 11-play scoring drive with 8:55 left in the game. Tyler Parker followed the 6’7″ Pollom into the endzone from five yards out to ruin Jackson’s cinderella season. Potts was the workhorse with seven carries for 44 yards.
“Our game plan was to run the ball down their throats. That’s it. Roll everybody,” said Pollom. “I don’t lift much during the season. Don’t want to hurt myself. I concentrate on conditioning and watching my weight. Right now, I’m in the best shape of my life.”
The Ironmen conclude the year 11-1, but not before their second straight SEOAL title and a school record 11 wins. Jackson’s opponents this season had a combined record of 48-64 (.429%) entering this game.
It will be another battle of unbeatens in D-III, Region 12. This Friday (12-0) Alder faces (12-0) Springfield Shawnee in a regional final megamatch at Hilliard Darby High School.