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Ironton drubs Ashland

It wasn’t the Ironton Fighting Tigers best work.

Saturday, September 23, 2000

It wasn’t the Ironton Fighting Tigers best work. But don’t expect the Ashland Tomcats to believe that.

Despite a sluggish start, Ironton blasted their cross-river rivals 42-6 Friday night before a standing room only crowd at Tanks Memorial Stadium.

"We didn’t play very well at first. We stood and watched, we caught, we made mistakes, we were just too passive," Ironton coach Bob Lutz said.

"But we started moving people and started to get after it a little better, and then we came out and played pretty well the second half. It wasn’t too bad, but we’ll have to be a whole lot better next week."

The Fighting Tigers, 5-0 and ranked ninth in the Associated Press poll, led just 14-0 at the half before making a statement in the second half. Ironton plays at unbeaten Portsmouth next Friday.

The Trojans trounced Vinton County 66-0 and figure to be the No. 1 ranked team in the Associated Press Division III poll following losses by the top three ranked teams.

Ironton rolled up 466 total yards including 350 on the ground.

Fullback B. J. Kerns carried 19 times for 113 yards and scored three touchdowns to lead Ironton’s offense.

Maurice Murphy ran nine times for 81 yards and quarterback Drew Mains completed 5-of-11 for 116 yards.

"I thought all our backs ran hard. B. J. Kerns punished people when they came up and Maurice Murphy did a nice job," Lutz said.

Ashland, 2-3, was unable to dent the scoreboard with its offense. The only touchdown was an 80-yard kickoff return by Arliss Beach following Ironton’s third score.

"We’ve been bragging on our special teams and then we let that happen," Lutz said.

The Tomcats finished with 146 yards on the ground and just 11 in the air for a 157 total. Ironton had 26 first downs to just nine for Ashland.

"They just whipped us up front. This is a better defensive team than last year," Ashland coach Larry Hall said.

Ashland took the opening kickoff and used a 24-yard run by Nichols to reach the Ironton 33. But a clipping penalty moved the ball back to the 47 and Ironton’s defense clamped down from that point on.

After an exchange of punts, Ironton got the ball at its own 40 with 2:45 left in the quarter. Despite a holding penalty, Ironton used 12 plays to cover the real estate and Kerns breezed into the end zone from a yard out with 9:46 left in the half.

Tommy Lutz kick the conversion and it was 7-0.

Ashland was forced to punt again and Josh Harmon returned the ball across midfield to the 40. But a clipping penalty sent the ball back to the Ironton 30.

The Fighting Tigers then mixed the run and pass to travel 70 yards in only six plays for a second touchdown. Mains hit Chris Frazer on a 13-yard pass and then a 26-yarder to Redgie Arden got the ball to the 5 where Kerns scored on the next play. Tommy Lutz’s conversion kick put the lead at 14-0.

Ironton had another drive reach the Ashland 20 just before the end of the half, but a fumble on a fourth-and-5 play ended the threat.

But the halftime only put a temporary halt on the Ironton scoring.

Getting the ball to start the second half, Ironton went 65 yards in just six plays capped by Murphy’s 25-yard touchdown run behind key blocks by Eli Dalton and Frazer.

"I got a good block from someone, and then I just cut up," Murphy said. "Our offensive line did a good job opening holes all night. This was a good win for us, but we know we’re going to have to play a lot better next week to have a chance against Portsmouth."

Leading 21-0, Beach bolted up the middle on the ensuing kickoff for the Tomcats only score of the game.

Ironton countered with a drive to the Ashland 14, but Beach intercepted a pass in the end zone at the 4:42 mark.

Ashland turned the ball over to Ironton three plays later when Mark Gleichauf put a hit on Beach to knock the ball loose and Tyler Whaley pounced on the ball at the 30.

Kerns carried four straight times including the final 10 yards for the touchdown and the lead was 28-6.

"Kerns ran hard, but he always runs hard," Lutz said.

The lead went to 35-6 early in the fourth quarter when Murphy ran 12 yards at the 10:53 mark to cap a quick five-play, 60-yard drive. Matt Kelly had a 27-yard run to key the drive.

Ironton’s second team got the final score as fullback Matt White ran 12 yards for the touchdown. Mike Huber kicked the point after. Jeff Pleasant had two carries for 30 yards to highlight the drive.

Both teams were beset by injury problems.

Ashland was missing center Tyler Gilbert and quarterback Ryne Salyer coming into the game.

Ironton lost tight end and cornerback Erique Bacon on the game’s second play with a shoulder injury. Tight end and linebacker Redgie Arden sprained an ankle in the second quarter and did not return.

Fighting Tigers halfback Josh Harmon, who is recovering from a knee sprain, filled in for Bacon but carried only twice on offense.