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Fighting Tigers level Indian Hill

PORTSMOUTH – The playoff schedule said the Ironton Fighting Tigers were playing the first half, but it sure didn’t look like them.

Sunday, November 14, 1999

PORTSMOUTH – The playoff schedule said the Ironton Fighting Tigers were playing the first half, but it sure didn’t look like them.

The scoreboard the second half said the Ironton Fighting Tigers were playing, and this time it sure looked like it.

After struggling offensively the first half and falling behind the Cincinnati Indian Hill Braves 7-0, Ironton came to life the second half and pounded its way to a 21-7 win in the Division IV Region 16 semifinals.

"I thought I got a whole new bunch of players the second half," Ironton coach Bob Lutz said.

"The first half we just weren’t coming off the ball and we weren’t blocking. The defense wasn’t too bad, but our tackling was terrible. I don’t know how many times we ran right by the ballcarrier."

The resurgence not only gave Ironton the win, but the Fighting Tigers (8-3) will now play Germantown Valley View next Saturday in the Regional finals.

Valley View (11-1) beat Wheelersburg 36-12 Saturday night. Valley View downed Ironton 50-20 last year in the regional semifinals.

Ironton’s play changed dramatically the second half. After gaining just 62 yards on the ground the first half, Ironton rushed for 216 yards the second half behind fullback Michael Henry and halfback Jason Harmon.

Henry carried 22 times for 176 yards including 17 times for 129 yards the second half. Harmon, held to 11 yards the first half, finished with 98 yards on 16 tries.

Quarterback Jimmy Peyton was 4 of 8 for 33 yards, all in the first half, as Ironton rolled up 311 total yards.

Indian Hill (10-2) had 127 yards the first half but finished with only 179 total yards. The Braves had a mere eight first downs for the game and just two the second half.

"We just wanted it," Ironton guard Kyle Hankins said. "We just did a better job blocking the second half."

Indian Hill took the opening kickoff and 83 yards in 17 plays, eating up nearly eight minutes. Vic Cole ran the final yard for the touchdown and Grady Rogers conversion kick put the Braves up 7-0 at the 4:44 mark.

Ironton’s only threat came at the end of the half after getting the ball at its own 3 and reaching the Braves 31. But Andrew Schreiner’s interception in the end zone ended the drive with just 1:14 on the clock.

The Fighting Tigers then changed attitudes the third quarter. Ironton took the kickoff and went 65 yards in only four plays.

A 29-yard run by Henry to the 27 set up Harmon’s 27-yard scoring run on the next play. Clark Cooper’s conversion kick tied the game with 10:33 left in the quarter.

Indian Hill went three-and-out and Ironton had the ball at the Braves 39 after a 13-yard punt return by Harmon.

Henry ran for 7, Harmon for 17, and Henry bolted the final 15 on the next play and Ironton had a 14-7 lead at the 7:42 mark.

Although Ironton punted on its next possession, it began a scoring drive after another Indian Hill punt.

Henry’s 39-yard jaunt got the ball to the Braves 23 on the first play, and eight plays later Henry did the honors from a yard out as the drive spilled over into the fourth quarter.

Cooper’s kick made it 21-7 with 11:36 to play.

"I always get tired, but I wanted the ball. I was too fired up," Henry said.

The Fighting Tigers had another drive stall at the Braves 30, but the defense shut down Indian Hill on six plays and took over the ball with 1:27 to play.

The second team then ran out the clock and Ironton had its second straight upset win over a Cincinnati Hills League team.

"That was a good win, but any playoff win is a good win," Lutz said.