Tigers oust Cardinal Mooney 34-24

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 27, 1999

ZANESVILLE – It was like an old-fashioned heavyweight title fight, and the Ironton Fighting Tigers delivered the knockout punch.

Saturday, November 27, 1999

ZANESVILLE – It was like an old-fashioned heavyweight title fight, and the Ironton Fighting Tigers delivered the knockout punch.

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Using their ball-control, smashmouth style of football Ironton outslugged Youngstown Cardinal Mooney 34-24 Saturday night to earn their eighth trip to the state finals.

Ironton, 10-3, will play No. 2 ranked Sandusky Perkins at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Massillon Paul Brown Tiger Stadium for the Division IV state championship.

"Our offensive and defensive lines controlled the line of scrimmage and allowed us to control the football and keep it out of their hands," Ironton coach Bob Lutz said. "We’ve got two or three good skilled players and a bunch of guys who play their roles well. I thought our quarterback played pretty good tonight and our backs ran hard."

Michael Henry ran 35 times for 110 yards and four touchdowns while Jason Harmon carried 17 times for 86 yards.

Quarterback Jimmy Peyton ran seven times for 26 yards and completed 5 of 6 passes for 68 yards and a touchdown.

"Our offensive line was pumped up the whole game. We let them make a couple of plays the first half, but I knew once our offense was on the field they couldn’t stop us," Peyton said.

Ironton senior tackle Jay Colegrove said Mooney was a tough challenge for the offensive line.

"We knew we had to block them. They were good. They were the best defensive line we’ve played. They were quick and flew to the ball. Their linebackers filled the holes quick," Colegrove said.

Mooney, 12-2, and ranked No. 1 in the AP poll, drew first blood when quarterback Matt Kubik ran 63 yards on the game’s third play for a 7-0 lead.

Ironton answered with a 71-yards, 17-play drive capped by Henry’s 1-yard run and it was 7-6 after the conversion kick was blocked.

The Cardinals extended its lead on D.J. Walker’s 34-yard touchdown run with 5:28 left in the half to make it 14-6.

"We made two or three mistakes the first half and they hurt us with big plays," Lutz said. "We played better defense the second half. We were a lot more aggressive."

The Fighting Tigers got a break when Harmon’s hard hit caused a fumble and Mark Mains recovered the loose ball at the Mooney 20.

Six plays later Henry scored from yard out and Harmon’s conversion run tied the score with 53-seconds left at 14-14.

"Coach (Lutz) always says we need two or three turnovers in a game. We had two and they were a big factor in the game," said Mains.

Mooney took the lead just before the half on a 24-yard field goal by Stelio Frangopoulos with 5 seconds left in the half. The field goal was setup by a 50-yard pass from Kubik to Justin Shanabarger.

But just like the past two weeks Ironton dominated the second half.

The Fighting Tigers took the second half kickoff and marched 82 yards in 13 plays. Peyton found Brad Williams behind the Cardinals secondary for a 30-yard touchdown pass that gave Ironton the lead for good at 20-17 with 5:07 on the clock.

"I came off the ball and made my cut, the guy slipped and fell and I just caught the ball and dove for the end zone," said Williams.

Ironton increased its lead with a 74-yard drive in 10 plays that began in third quarter and culminated with 10:18 to play on a 2-yard run by Henry. The conversion run failed and it was 26-17.

The defense came up big on the next series when Harmon intercepted a Kubik pass and returned it 37 yards to the 23-yard line. An unsportsmanlike penalty moved the ball to the 12 and Ironton scored four plays later on a 1-yard run by Henry. Peyton carried in the conversion making it 34-17 with 6:09 left in the game.

Mooney went to the air as Kubik completed 6 of 9 for 72 yards including a 5-yard touchdown pass to Antwan Anderson with 3:54 left cutting the lead to 34-24.

Peyton recovered the onside kick by Mooney and the Fighting Tigers proceeded to run out the clock and head for Massillon.

"We were ready," said Henry. "We were shaky at the beginning, but once we got into our rhythm they couldn’t stop us."

Ironton previous state championships have been in 1979 and 1989.