Fighting Tigers rally by Belfry and into playoffs

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 27, 2002

The Ironton Fighting Tigers must think Bob Lutz is E. F. Hutton. When he speaks, they listen.

Down 21-14 at the half Friday night, Ironton began to do what their head coach told them to do.

Although Belfry went up 28-14 in the third quarter, the Fighting Tigers stormed back with 28 unanswered points for a 42-28 come-from-behind win and earned a berth in the OHSAA postseason playoffs.

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"We told them at the half to do a better job playing their position and to step up and make some plays and we did," Lutz said. "Our offensive line played well the second half, our backs ran hard, and we made some plays."

Senior fullback Matt White made plenty of plays, as did junior halfback Josh Sands.

White ran 16 times for 129 yards and three touchdowns in the second half as he finished the game with 32 carries for 180 yards.

Sands ended the game with 129 yards on 12 carries including 72 yards the second half, 66 coming on a touchdown run.

Ironton, 7-2, racked up 325 yards on the ground and senior quarterback Andrew Harvey completed 4-of-7 passes for 72 yards and a touchdown. He was intercepted once.

Belfry, 7-2, rolled up 339 yards -- all on the ground -- but had just 98 net yards the second half. The only Pirates pass attempt was intercepted by Harvey late in the game.

Jonah Caudill rushed 12 times for 224 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Pirates. He had 188 yards the first half.

"We are a running football team," Belfry coach Phillip Haywood said. "We felt like we could move the ball effectively rushing the ball, and we did. Our kids played hard and played a really good game. We are very disappointed with the result."

Belfry ran almost at will the first half.

On the Pirates second possession, it took seven plays to go 61 yards. Doug Howard dashed 46 yards on the option for the touchdown and Joey Ramey booted the first of four conversion kicks.

After an Ironton punt, Caudill took a handoff going right and went virtually untouched on a 79-yard touchdown run and it was 14-0 with 8:57 left in the half.

Ironton finally got a scoring drive going midway in the quarter. The 66-yard, 11-play march was capped by Sands 20-yard scamper and A. J. Lutz's conversion kick cut the deficit to 14-7.

But after the ensuing kickoff, Caudill stunned Ironton with a 69-yard run to the 1-yard line and Gary Childers scored on the next play for a 21-7 lead and just 23 seconds to play in the half.

However, the scoring flurry wasn't over yet.

Sands returned the kickoff 79 yards to the Belfry 16, and Harvey hit A. J. McKnight with a scoring strike on first down and it was 21-14 at the half.

"I thought we should have gone into the half two touchdowns ahead. They got those big plays at the end of the half to close things up. They had an answer for everything we threw at them. It was something else," Haywood said.

The Pirates tried to re-establish their dominance in the third quarter and a 51-yard punt that rolled dead at the Ironton 2-yard line set things in motion.

Unable to move the ball, Ironton punted and Belfry had the ball at the Fighting Tigers 38. Three plays later, Caudill took a pitch off the option, cut back to his left and scored from 21 yards out and it was 28-14.

But Harvey hit White and Nick Collins with two straight passes to the Belfry 17, and five plays later White ran 2 yards for the touchdown. A bad snap on the conversion left the score at 28-20.

Belfry fumbled early in the fourth quarter and Daniel Murphy jumped on the ball at the 28 with 9:50 left to play. Harvey kept on the next play for 6 yards, and then Sands took a handoff and scooted 66 yards for the touchdown that got Ironton within 28-26. The conversion pass failed and Belfry was still ahead.

"We decided to run a draw and see if Sands could pop through there (for a first down) and he made a nice cut and was off to the races," Lutz said.

The Ironton defense forced a three-and-out on the next series and got the ball back at the 46.

Nine plays later White pounded into the end zone from 1-yard out and Ironton had the lead with 2:30 to play. Harvey ran for the conversion and it was 34-28.

Belfry went to the air and Harvey picked off the pass giving Ironton the ball at its own 40.

On third-and-2 and out of timeouts, Belfry stacked the line of scrimmage hoping to stop Ironton and get the ball back. But White broke the plane and went 52 yards for the clinching touchdown. White also ran for the conversion and it was 42-28 with 1:11 to play.

"Our offensive line got some push the second half and opened up some holes for me," White said.

Ironton appears headed for a playoff date next Friday at Lancaster Fairfield Union.

"That's three in three years," Ironton senior tackle Tyler Whaley said. "We we watching too much the first half. The second half we were more fired up. We wanted to win and make the playoffs."



First Quarter

Be -- Doug Howard 46 run (Joey Ramey kick) 1:22

Second Quarter

Be -- Jonah Caudill 79 run (Joey Ramey kick) 8:57

Irn -- Josh Sands 20 run (A. J. Lutz kick) :46

Be -- Gary Childers 1 run (Joey Ramey kick) :23

Irn -- A. J. McKnight 16 pass from Andrew Harvey (A. J. Lutz kick) :07.

Third Quarter

Be -- Jonah Caudill 21 run (Joey Ramey kick) 4:20

Irn -- Matt White 2 run (run failed) :55

Fourth Quarter

Irn -- Josh Sands 66 run (pass failed) 8:52

Irn -- Matt White 1 run (Andrew Harvey run) 2:30

Irn -- Matt White 52 run (Matt White run) 1:11



First downs1119


Passing yards072

Total yards339397






Individual Leaders

RUSHING -- Belfry: Jonah Caudill 12-224, Doug Howard 6-72, Gary Childers 8-39, Paul Howard 8-minus 3, Tyler Bostic 1-9, Ryan Hinkle 2-minus 2. Ironton: Matt White 32-180, Josh Sands 12-129, Jeff Pleasant 2-5, Andrew Harvey 4-11.

PASSING -- Belfry: Paul Howard 0-1-1. Ironton: Andrew Harvey 4-7-1


RECEIVING – Belfry: None. Ironton: A. J. McKnight 1-16, Matt White 1-12, Nick Collins 1-30, Josh Sands 1-14.