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Fighting Tigers down Valley View

CINCINNATI – The Jetsons met the Flintstones, and this time the Stone Age won.

Saturday, November 20, 1999

CINCINNATI – The Jetsons met the Flintstones, and this time the Stone Age won. The Germantown Valley View Spartans, boasting of their high-tech offense were ready to polish off a third straight Ohio River team.

Instead, the old-fashioned running game of Ironton proved too much for the Spartans defense as the Fighting Tigers used a big second half for the second straight week and outscored Valley View 37-29 Saturday night at Princeton High School.

"Our offense is pretty good, even for an old-fashioned, Woody’s (Hayes) still alive style," Ironton coach Bob Lutz said. "River rat football is still pretty effective. Our guys are starting to believe in themselves."

Ironton, 9-3, used its running game to pick up 250 yards and 313 total as it captured the Region 16 championship of Division IV.

The Fighting Tigers will now play in the state semifinals for the 11th time next Saturday against a team to be determined.

If Coldwater won Ironton will probably play them in Dayton. If Coldwater lost Ironton would play the Mooney-Coshocton winner possibly in Zanesville.

Ironton fell behind 21-3 at the half in a performance similar to last year when the two teams met in the first round of the playoffs.

Clark Cooper kicked a 29-yard field goal following a Jimmy Peyton interception to put Ironton ahead 3-0 with 4:37 left in the first quarter.

But Valley View got a 51-yard kickoff return by Ben Buehner to the Ironton 33-yard line and nine plays later Ryan Boyer scored on a 1-yard run and the conversion kick gave the Spartans a 7-3 lead.

Ironton got the ensuing kickoff at its own seven. On first down Ironton lost a fumble and Brandon Storer recovered the loose ball in the end zone for a Valley View touchdown.

Korry Frizzell ran for the conversion and it was 15-3 at the 1:01 mark of the first quarter.

Ironton drove deep into Valley View territory but turned the ball over on downs at the 20.

The Spartans then went 80 yards in 10 plays capped by a 20-yard scoring pass from Dustin Strayer to Michael Wafzig and Valley View led 21-3 with 4:50 left in the half.

But then came another big third quarter for the Fighting Tigers as they scored 21 points to regain the lead.

Jason Harmon, who ran 18 times for 208 yards and Michael Henry, who gained 75 yards on 21 tries, led the comeback.

Henry forced a fumble and recovered it at the Valley View 2-yard line. Henry then scored on the next play to make it 21-9.

Momentum swung Ironton’s way as the defense forced a punt and the Fighting Tigers took over at their own 41-yard line.

Harmon ran 59 yards on a reverse on first down for a touchdown as Ironton pulled to within 21-16 with 4:09 left in the third quarter.

"We just stepped it up and talked to our lineman at half time and they got some confidence the second half," said Harmon. "I couldn’t have done what I did tonight without the job they did. Now we have to take it to the next level."

The defense forced another stop and a 54-yard run by Harmon set up a 1-yard scoring run by Henry with 26 seconds left in the quarter. Harmon ran for the conversion and Ironton led 24-21.

A sack by Mark Mains forced Valley View to punt starting the fourth quarter and Ironton was back in business at its own 46-yard line.

It took Ironton just four plays to score and Harmon did the honors with an 11-yard scamper for the touchdown with 9:27 left to play. Cooper’s conversion kick extended the lead to 31-21.

But the Valley View kick return game did it again as Doug Cox ran the ensuing kickoff back 74 yards to the Ironton 15-yard line.

Three plays later Nate Wharton hit Buehner with a 15-yard touchdown pass. The conversion pass was good and Ironton’s lead was just 31-29 with 6:26 left to play.

Ironton was forced to punt but Peyton picked off his second pass at the Valley View 21-yard line with 5:15 to play.

"I just stretched out as far as I could," Peyton said about his diving interception.

Ironton capitalized four plays later as Henry scored from two yards out with 2:57 remaining to put the Tigers ahead 37-29.

Harmon intercepted a pass four plays later and Ironton ran out the clock to win the regional title.

"Our linemen did a good job and Michael Henry and Mark Mains and Andre Murphy put heat on their quarterback to help me and Todd Frazer out. The defense stepped it up the second half," said Ironton linebacker Matt Kelley.

"It was just like last year, we kept shooting ourselves in the foot the first half," Lutz said. "We gave them everything they got the first half, once we settled down we were all right."

Valley View’s quarterback Dustin Strayer was injured midway through the third quarter and did not return.

"I know they’ll say they missed their quarterback, but he didn’t play defense and we played without (linebacker Redgie) Arden for the last four weeks. That’s the way this game goes sometimes," said Lutz.