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All goes wrong as Ironton falls

After the opening kickoff and first two Ironton plays, it was all downhill as the Fighting Tigers were upset 17-14 by the Belfry Pirates Friday night.

Sunday, October 24, 1999

After the opening kickoff and first two Ironton plays, it was all downhill as the Fighting Tigers were upset 17-14 by the Belfry Pirates Friday night.

"We just didn’t make plays and they did," Ironton coach Bob Lutz said. "We had our opportunities, but we didn’t take advantage of them. We didn’t play well.

"I don’t know what it was. We came out and moved the ball the first series with no problem, and after that it seemed like nothing would go right."

A hard hit on the opening kickoff forced a fumble and Todd Frazer pounced on the ball for Ironton at the Pirates 30.

Two plays later fullback Michael Henry bolted 29 yards for the touchdown. Clark Cooper’s conversion kick split the uprights and the lead was 7-0 at the 11:07 mark.

But Murphy’s Law kicked in on the next series. Henry suffered a hip injury and did not play the rest of the game. To compound matters, his replacement at fullback and defensive end – B. J. Kerns – suffered an ankle injury and was hobbled the rest of the game.

Ironton also lost linebacker Redgie Arden and nose guard Ryan Justice to injuries in the second half.

Belfry started a drive on its next series with a short, controlled passing game. But Jimmy Peyton stepped up and intercepted a pass at the 21 and ran it back to the Belfry 34.

The Fighting Tigers (6-2) managed to reach the 7 but were forced to kick a field goal. Clark Cooper’s 27-yard attempt was blocked by Derrick Pauley and it remained 7-0.

The Pirates used the momentum and marched 90 yards in 11 plays capped by an 11-yard strike from Jonathan Wright to Pauley. R. P. Vipperman kicked the tying conversion with 10:09 left in the half.

The drive was aided by two 15-yard penalties against Ironton. Belfry gained 2 yards on a third-and-8, but a late hit penalty and an unsportsmanlike conduct moved the ball to the Ironton 14. The Pirates scored two plays later.

"You can’t make those kind of mistakes. That was one series in which we had them stopped and then gave them new life," Lutz said.

A Belfry drive to the Ironton 26 late in the half ended when Peyton picked off his second pass of the game to halt the threat.

Ironton had the ball at the Belfry 19 in the third quarter only to gain one yard in three plays. Cooper attempted a 35-yard field goal that hooked at the last instant and went wide left.

Murphy’s Law was at it again.

Belfry (6-3) was energized again and drove to the Ironton 12 where Curtis Childress was tackled for a 3-yard loss on second down. But a late facemask call on the play gave Belfry a first-and-goal at the 7. Ironton’s defense stiffened and Vipperman was forced to kick a 22-yard field goal that put the Pirates up 10-7 with 10:14 to play.

Hey, would someone in Congress please rewrite Murphy’s Law.

Ironton fumbled the ensuing kickoff and the Pirates recovered at the Ironton 35. Nine plays later Vipperman scored on a 2-yard run and his conversion kick made it 17-7.

The Fighting Tigers tried to change Murphy’s Law with a 55-yard scoring strike from Peyton to Brad Williams on the first play after the kickoff. Cooper’s kick closed the gap to 17-14.

Ironton held Belfry stopped at their own 47 when the Pirates took a delay of game. The punt snap bounced to Jeff Thompson who ran right and completed a pass for a first down.

However, Belfry had ineligible linemen downfield and the play was called back.

Moved back 5 yards, Thompson got off the kick the second time and Ironton found itself on the 17-yard line with 58 seconds to play.

The first down pass was incomplete, and the second play saw a deflected pass intercepted at the 30-yard line. With Ironton out of timeouts, Belfry took two snaps and the game was over.

Ironton ran just 37 plays – 13 the second half – to 66 for Belfry. The Fighting Tigers had 151 total yards to 305 for Belfry.

Wright was 18 of 27 for 181 yards and two interceptions. Pauley caught seven passes for 101 yards while Vipperman ran 20 times for 77 yards.