Fighting Tigers bat down Belfry, 55-7

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 21, 2000

What layoff? If the Ironton Fighting Tigers were concerned how they would react after an open date, all their fears were merely a false alarm.

Saturday, October 21, 2000

What layoff? If the Ironton Fighting Tigers were concerned how they would react after an open date, all their fears were merely a false alarm.

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Ironton (7-1) showed virtually no effects of a layoff as they crushed the Belfry Pirates 55-7 Friday on homecoming night at Tanks Memorial Stadium.

Linebacker Redgie Arden had 12 tackles, recovered a fumble, and returned an interception for a touchdown to lead a strong defensive effort that limited Belfry to 126 total yards, just 31 the first half.

"This was my best game," Arden said. "I have been thinking instead of reacting. Tonight, I read well and reacted well.

"With two weeks off, I was afraid we’d come into the game stale. But defensively we did pretty well. The quarterback got outside a few times, but otherwise the defense was good."

Ironton coach Bob Lutz said it was a good overall performance by the Fighting Tigers against a good Belfry team that was virtually healthy after battling injuries all season.

"We took advantage of what they gave us on offense, and defensively we hit well," Lutz said.

"Arden probably played his best game, but I thought a lot of guys played well. I thought Matt Kelly played well and our front five did a good job getting heat on the quarterback."

On the other side of the ball, Ironton rolled up 453 total yards including 353 on the ground.

Kelly ran 13 times for 71 yards and two touchdowns. Quarterback Drew Mains ran five times for 64 yards and a score and completed 3-of-6 passes for 84 yards and a touchdown.

With Belfry trying to jam Kelly, Mains was able to keep the ball for big gains.

"I think our offensive line did a good job and stayed with its blocks, and that’s why we were able to do those things,"said Mains. "(Running the option) I just saw the backers fly outside and I just cut it up."

Whether it was the layoff or the Belfry defense, Ironton’s first drive stalled at the Belfry 35. But Ironton forced a punt and got the ball at its own 32.

Kelly carried three times for 25 yards and Mains had a key 29-yard run to the 2-yard line that set up his own 1-yard run. The conversion kick was blocked and it was 6-0.

Belfry (5-4) went to the air to get a first down, but on that first down quarterback Casey Lequire was intercepted by Arden who returned the ball 38 yards for the score. Mains ran for the conversion and it was 14-0.

The Pirates went three-and-out on the next series and Ironton responded with a 65-yard, nine play drive that ended with Kelly bulling his way for a 5-yard touchdown run.

Tommy Lutz kicked the point after for a 21-0 lead.

Belfry faced another punt situation but this time Josh Harmon returned the kick 54 yards to the Pirates 22.

Mains ran for 8 yards, and then Kelly carried three straight times including the final yard for the score. Tommy Lutz’s kick made it 28-0 with 3:34 left in the half.

But the Fighting Tigers weren’t finished.

Getting the ball back with 2:22 on the clock at its own 29, a 20-yard run by Maurice Murphy, a 10-yard run by Mains, and a 20-yard pass to Arden got Ironton to the Belfry 21.

A penalty moved the ball back 5 yards, but then Mains hit Murphy on a 26-yard touchdown pass play and it was 35-0.

"That was a big score before the half. Any hopes they might have had were pretty much wiped out. We did a good job of running our two-minute offense," coach Lutz said.

Arden recovered a Belfry fumble at the Pirates 49 three plays into the second half and Ironton was back in business.

Chris Frazer caught a 38-yard pass from Mains to the Belfry 5 and Tyler Scior scored on the next play as the lead ballooned to 42-0.

"Drew threw a pretty good ball and Frazer made a nice adjustment and a heck of a catch," coach Lutz said.

Belfry refused to quit and put together an 80-yard, 15-play drive that culminated on a 6-yard pass from Lequire to Jeff Thompson with 4:20 left in the quarter and it was 42-7.

The Fighting Tigers second unit put up a pair of touchdowns in contrasting fashion.

A third quarter drive spilled over into the fourth quarter as it covered 60 yards in 12 plays. Quarterback Andrew Harvey went the final 2 yards for the touchdown and a bad snap on the conversion left the score at 48-7.

Two plays into Ironton’s next possession, halfback Jeff Pleasant bolted 63 yards for the touchdown and Mike Huber’s conversion kick made it 55-7 with 7:03 to play.

Ironton closes out its regular season at home next Friday against Division II powerhouse Columbus St. Francis DeSales, ranked ninth in the Associated Press poll.