Ironton grinds up Gallipolis

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 6, 2003

GALLIPOLIS -- It was billed as the ground attack of the Army vs. the aerial assault of the Air Force. As it turned out, the Ironton Fighting Tigers played more like the Marines.

Not only did Ironton use a punishing ball-control running game, but the Fighting Tigers grounded the Gallipolis spread offense and dominated the Blue Devils 20-7 Friday night in a battle of unbeatens.

Ironton (3-0) ran 65 rushing plays and racked up 278 yards. The defense was equally tenacious by limiting the Blue Devils passing attack to 37 yards.

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"Both of us haven't really been tested the first two weeks, so this was a way to gauge where we stand," Ironton coach Bob Lutz said. "I think we found out we're getting better. We wanted to take it to them on offense and control the line of scrimmage, which we did, and defensively we wanted to contain their quarterback, and we did that, too."

Quarterback Donnie Johnson was virtually all of the Gallipolis offense. Johnson ran for 73 yards including the team's lone touchdown on a quarterback draw. He threw for 37 yards as the Blue Devils had just 119 total yards for the game and three first downs.

"We got good pressure on the quarterback, our ends kept everything in front of them, and our secondary did a nice job. It was a good defensive effort," Lutz said.

Ironton's defense forced a three-and-out on the first series, then drove from its own 49 to the Gallipolis' 14-yard line. But a fourth down pass was snuffed out for a 7-yard loss and the Blue Devils had held.

For now.

Another punt gave Ironton the ball at the Gallipolis 47. Jared Murphy scored on the first play of the second quarter and 10th in the drive to cap the scoring march. A. J. Lutz kicked the point after and it was 7-0.

The two teams exchanged punts, but Gallipolis fumbled Ironton's kick trying a reverse on the return. Marland Turner recovered at the Gallipolis 29 and it was back to work for the Ironton offense.

Staying on the ground, quarterback Josh Sands scored on a fourth-and-goal inside the 1-yard line and the lead was now 14-0 with 8:49 left in the half.

The Fighting Tigers tried to get one more score before the end of the half, but Sands was sacked for a 13-yard loss on a fourth down play at the 22.

Johnson's 16-yard scramble on the last play of the second quarter against the Ironton prevent defense proved to be the Blue Devils only first down of the first half.

Gallipolis caught a break in the third quarter by recovering an Ironton fumble at its own 37 to halt and Ironton drive, but the Blue Devils failed to convert a fourth-and-2.

Sands returned a punt 15 yards to give Ironton the ball at its own 49.

Four plays later, Derique Bacon took a handout and bounced outside en route to a 39-yard touchdown gallop. The conversion pass failed and it was 20-0.

A short 4-yard pass and three incomplete attempts turned the ball back to Ironton which drove to the 14. Sands scored on a keeper, but a penalty brought the ball back to the 25. A fumble on fourth down bounced all the way back to the Ironton 44 where the Blue Devils took over.

On second down, Johnson ran a quarterback draw for a touchdown and it was 20-7 with 6:47 left.

Gallipolis tried an onside kick, but Ironton recovered at the Blue Devils 47. It was more of the Fighting Tigers ground game as Ironton ate up the remaining clock on 13 running plays.

Murphy ran 104 yards on 26 carries, Bacon 76 on eight attempts, and Williams 73 on 16 tries to comprise most of the ground game.

"Williams played pretty good on both sides of the ball," Lutz said.

Ironton, which has won the last nine meetings with Gallipolis dating back to 1984, hosts Portsmouth next Friday.



Second Quarter

Irn -- Jared Murphy 2 run (A.J. Lutz kick)


Irn -- Josh Sands 1 run (A.J. Lutz kick)


Fourth Quarter

Irn -- Derique Bacon 39 run (pass failed)


Ga -- Donnie Johnson 44 run (Tom Bose kick)


First downs:Irn19,Gal3


Passing yards:Irn5,Gal37

Total yards:Irn283,Gal119





Individual Leaders

RUSHING -- Ironton: Jared Murphy 26-104, Derique Bacon 8-76, Marcus Williams 16-73, Marland Turner 3-11, Josh Sands 12-14. Gallipolis: Donnie Johnson 9-73, Andre Geiger 1-3, Mike Davis 2-3.

PASSING -- Ironton: Josh Sands 2-9-0 5. Gallipolis: Donnie Johnson 8-17-0

37, Andre Geiger 0-2-0.

RECEIVING -- Ironton: Nick Collins 1-12, Derique Bacon 1-minus 5. Gallipolis: Kyle Burnett 1-17, Andre Geiger 3-12, Cody Caldwell 1-9, Tommy Bose 1-2, Jake Bodimer 1-minus 2, Mike Davis 1-minus 1.