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Tigers fall to Panthers

LANCASTER – There were three items on Ironton’s "To Do" list.

Saturday, November 18, 2000

LANCASTER – There were three items on Ironton’s "To Do" list.

They didn’t.

"Before the game we said we wanted to block their stunts, contain their quarterback, and take care of the football. We didn’t do a bad job on the quarterback, but the rest of our game wasn’t too good," Ironton coach Bob Lutz said.

By failing "to do" the necessary things, Ironton lost 10-7 to the Licking Valley Panthers in the Division IV Region 15 championship game Friday when Brandon Haynes kicked a 24-yard field goal with four seconds to play.

But Ironton’s fate was sealed much earlier. The Fighting Tigers fumbled the ball away three times, at the Licking Valley 10, 11, and 33.

"Any time you put the ball on the ground that many times against a good team, you’re going to have trouble winning," Lutz said. "The one time we get close and take care of the ball, we score. We should have scored two or three more times, but we didn’t make the plays and they did."

Ironton, 10-2, had tied the game at 7-7 with 3:10 to play on a 4-yard run by Maurice Murphy that capped a 79-yard, 11-play drive.

The drive began with Murphy running for 12 yards on two carries, and then quarterback Drew Mains throwing out in the flats to Josh Harmon who in turn hit Redgie Arden on a 24-yard pass to the Panthers 43.

Two plays later Murphy ran 20 yards to to the 23. Fullback Matt Kelly carried three times to set up Murphy’s touchdown. Tommy Lutz kicked the point after and it was 7-7.

Licking Valley (13-0) got the ball back and began its game-winning drive at the 21-yard line.

After a short pass from Josh Vanover to Wade Kirk for 7 yards on first down, Vanover pump faked the same play on the next down and hit Kirk on a fade that covered 44 yards to the Ironton 14.

Faced with fourth-and-3 at the 7, Haynes kicked his winning field goal that just cleared the inside of the right upright.

Ironton had one last desperation play and Mains was intercepted as time ran out.

The pump fake-and-go pass play worked in the first half and set up Licking Valley’s first touchdown.

On first down at the Panther 49, Vanover and Kirk teamed up on a 46-yard pass play to the Ironton 5. Vanover kept around left end on the next play to score with 3:16 left in the half and it was 7-0.

"Our plan was to give them the short pass and take away the big play. They’re a big play team. We just got a little ancy a couple of times and let the guy get behind us. If you execute the fade right, it’s almost impossible to defend," Lutz said.

Ironton came right back after the touchdown marched to the Licking Valley 15. A second down pass to Arden went for 5 yards but the ball was stripped away from behind just as Arden caught the ball and the drive ended.

The Fighting Tigers defense stripped Kirk of the ball on a reverse and Chad Parker recovered at the Panther 44. But four plays later Ironton fumbled the ball back at the 33-yard line.

Erique Bacon intercepted a Vanover pass with 20 seconds left in the third quarter and Ironton was back in business at the Panther 49. Mains hit Murphy on a 38-yard catch-and-run pass, but Murphy fumbled at the 11-yard line and Licking Valley recovered.

After forcing a punt, Ironton got the ball back at its own 21 and began its only scoring drive of the game.

"Our defense played pretty well. Any time you give up just 10 points, especially to a team that’s averaging 41, you’ve played well. The two long passes were the only big plays they had, but they turned out to be enough," Lutz said.

The Fighting Tigers finished with 117 yards on the ground and 115 through the air. Kelly had 61 yards on 15 carries while Murphy finished with 50 on 12 tries. Leading rusher Tyler Scior turned an ankle in the first quarter and did not return.

Mains was 7-of-17 for 91 yards and Harmon had the one completion for 24 yards.

"They had a good defensive scheme. They were bringing everybody, but they hit them well. They gambled and this time it paid off. We just didn’t block them," Lutz said.

Brehm had 62 yards on nine attempts for the Panthers. Jared Nethers, who ran for 1,000 yards in the regular season, had 25 yards on 11 rushes.

Vanover was 9-of-18 for 142 yards and ran 10 times for 34 yards.