Ironton steps up against Portsmouth

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 2, 1999

But each challenge that was thrown in their face, the Fighting Tigers responded and came away with a 21-12 win Friday night before a standing room only crowd at Tanks Memorial Stadium.

Saturday, October 02, 1999

But each challenge that was thrown in their face, the Fighting Tigers responded and came away with a 21-12 win Friday night before a standing room only crowd at Tanks Memorial Stadium.

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"We stepped it up real big down there," Ironton linebacker Redgie Arden said. "The first half we stopped them, and in the second half after they scored, we shut them down. The defense didn’t give up."

Ironton not only ran its record to 5-1, but solidified its chances of making the postseason playoffs. Portsmouth fell to 4-2.

"That was a big win. Portsmouth is pretty darn good," Ironton coach Bob Lutz said. "We haven’t had to play a whole game the last four weeks, so we needed to be tested to see how good we are. The defense played really well, the offense did a good job driving the football. And all our backs ran hard."

Halfback Jason Harmon ran 17 times for 112 yards and fullback Michael Henry gave a punishing performance with 22 carries for 85 yards and two touchdowns.

"We knew they’d be quick off the ball," Henry said. "Our offensive line just pushed them and the backs blocked well."

Portsmouth was held to 80 yards rushing while quarterback Josiah Young was 11 of 21 for 156 yards and two interceptions. Young was starting his second game in place of injured starter Greg Estep.

"Their quarterback was pretty good and both their backs were quick. They’ve got as good of skilled people as we’ve seen," Lutz said.

A short kickoff gave Portsmouth the ball at the 42 and it took nine plays to put the ball at the Ironton 12.

On third and 2 at the 4-yard line, Ironton was offside and the ball was inches shorts of a first down. But a motion penalty in the backfield moved the ball back to the 7 where Young hit Hamrick on a 4-yard pass. On fourth and goal at the 3, Ironton stuffed Hamrick for less than a yard gain and took over on downs.

Ironton drove to the Portsmouth 5 only to lose 17 yards on three straight plays. A 34-yard field goal attempt by Clark Cooper was blocked.

Portsmouth punted and then Ironton drove 88 yards in 11 plays. A 28-yard pass from Jimmy Peyton to Jason Harmon got the ball to the 5 and Henry scored on the next play.

Cooper’s conversion kick made it 7-0.

After exchanging punts, Ironton drove 85 yards in 12 plays capped by Henry’s 5-yard run as he ran through four tacklers.

"Henry made a phenomenal run. He got hit enough times for anybody to go down," Portsmouth coach Curt Clifford said. "Our kids couldn’t quit, but they didn’t. We didn’t make any adjustments. We felt we were as good as them physically."

Portsmouth didn’t quit. A 50-yard kickoff return by Bradley Parker got the ball to the Ironton 34. Five plays later Young hit Jay Stombock with a 12-yard touchdown pass.

The conversion kick was wide left and Ironton led 14-6 with 10:24 to play.

An interception on Ironton’s next possession put Portsmouth back in business as the Ironton 28. On second down at the 27, Young hit Stombock in the corner of the end zone and it was 14-12.

But on the important conversion play, Peyton intercepted a Young pass and Ironton was still on top with 8:40 left.

After another Ironton punt, Portsmouth went back to the air. However, this time Brandon Brown and Mark Gleichauf teamed up to hit Young as he attempted to throw a screen pass and Henry made a diving catch at the Trojan 44.

"That was a big play," said Lutz. "They had stopped us each time and it swung the momentum back our way."

Seven plays later Harmon bolted into the end zone and it was 21-12 with 1:58 to play.

"We changed our blocking scheme and we did a better job moving ball the second half. We moved the ball pretty well the first half," said Lutz.

Portsmouth completed a 40-yard pass on fourth-and-10, but Jason Harmon came up with an interception on the next play to seal the win.