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Championship heartbreak

Saturday night, Ironton’s Cinderella season came to an end after a heartbreaking loss to the Sandusky Perkins Pirates.

Saturday, December 04, 1999

Saturday night, Ironton’s Cinderella season came to an end after a heartbreaking loss to the Sandusky Perkins Pirates.

The Pirates scored with 29 seconds left on the clock to beat Ironton 16-14 and to capture the Division IV state championship.

And even after getting farther than most critics thought they would – losing with a victory so close is not easy, Ironton coach Bob Lutz said.

"That game was ours," Lutz said. "That’s probably the most disappointing loss in my 31 years as a head coach."

Ironton, 10-4, has been to the finals eight times, winning state championships in 1979 and again in 1989.

But Saturday’s loss was the sixth runner-up trophy and the third time the Fighting Tigers have lost by three or fewer points.

Ironton lost 14-12 to Akron-St. Vincent St. Mary’s in 1988 when a two-point conversion was ruled no good.

A three-point loss ruined Ironton’s hopes in 1993 when Wauseon beat the Tigers 13-10 on a controversial field goal with no time on the clock.

Ironton also lost 21-14 to Akron-St. Vincent St. Mary’s in 1982 in the finals.

The Fighting Tigers other two losses in the finals were to Cleveland Bendicitine in 1973 36-13 and 31-7 to Mentor Lake Catholic in 1992.

"It was ours, we had this one, we just let it slip through our fingers," Ironton running back Jason Harmon said.

Fighting Tigers quarterback Jimmy Peyton was in disbelief after the painful defeat to Perkins.

"We worked hard all year, we were prepared and I thought we outplayed them; the breaks just didn’t go our way," said a tearful Peyton.

The championship was the first for Perkins on the team’s first trip to the finals. The Pirates finished the season 15-0 and ranked No. 2 in the Associated Press poll.

Ironton’s previous state titles were a 7-6 win over Akron St. Vincent St. Mary’s in 1979 and a 12-7 win over Campbell Memorial in 1989.