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Portsmouth#039;s weapons big concern for Ironton


In big games, the big time players usually make big plays. If that's the case, the Ironton Fighting Tigers have several playmakers to slowdown.

The Portsmouth Trojans have a lot of weapons as they meet Ironton at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the Division IV Region 15 semifinals at Ohio Univeristy's Peden Stadium. Two of those weapons are causing Ironton head coach Bob Lutz some great concerns.

Portsmouth (10-1) is led by senior tailback Jeremiah Bolden who has rushed for 1,526 yards this season including 184 yards in last week's 53-28 playoff win over Waverly.

Bolden has been bothered by a bad ankle and did not play earlier this season against Huntington High, then sat out the final regular season game against Wheelersburg in order to be ready for the playoffs.

"If (Portsmouth's) plan was to rest Bolden to get him healthy, it worked. He's a dangerous runner. He's a threat to go the distance any time he touches the ball," Ironton coach Bob Lutz said.

With Bolden on the sidelines, Portsmouth fell behind 21-0 the first half and had to rally late to beat Wheelersburg 42-35.

Which brings us to headache No. 2: Craig Felts.

The Trojans senior quarterback ran for 164 yards against the Pirates as he led the comeback win. On the season, Felts has thrown for nearly 700 yards and rushed 90 times for 641 yards or 7.1 yards a carry.

"Felts is a good athlete. He's improved since the first time we played. Trying to stop one player is tough, but when you throw Felts into the equation, it makes it harder to find the answer defensively," Lutz said.

The first time Ironton and Portsmouth met this season was week four at Portsmouth. The Trojans won 25-7 as Bolden ran 28 times for 174 yards. Felts failed to gain any yards rushing, but he was 6 of 11 passing for 92 yards.

Fullback Jeremy Mathis added 55 yards on 11 carries in the win.

Ironton was able to run the ball in the first meeting but managed just 12 yards passing. Halfback Josh Sands ran 15 times for 103 yards but fullback Matt White, who was nursing a bad ankle that caused him to miss half of the previous week's game, finished with just 49 yards on 12 carries.

White sat out the next game but has returned in strong fashion. He leads Ironton with 993 yards rushing and has scored 16 touchdowns. Sands now has 965 yards rushing and has scored 11 times.

"There's no secret to what we have to do. We have to run the ball and keep it out of their hands. If they have the ball too much, that's a lot of pressure on our defense," Lutz said.