Bellaire picks off Fighting Tigers in OT

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 9, 2003

ZANESVILLE - Bellaire spent the night dodging bullets until they finally threw a dart of their own.

Quarterback Nate Davis threw a perfect strike to Ryan Padgett on a fourth-and-eight at the 18-yard line for the deciding touchdown as Bellaire edged the Fighting Tigers 20-14 in a heartbreaker in the Division IV, Region 15 semifinals.

Bellaire had the ball first in the overtime period while Ironton took the ball and gained 1 yard in two plays to set up a third-and-nine. A Josh Sands pass from the 19 was intercepted by Ryan Mancini to seal Ironton's fate.

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"We brought the heat, they blocked us and their quarterback threw a perfect pass," said Ironton Coach Bob Lutz. "But, still we had a chance to win it if we score and kick the extra point."

Ironton rolled up 373 total yards, but managed just 14 points. Bellaire had 285 yards, 183 coming through the air as Davis completed 12-of-32 passes.

"We knew their quarterback was pretty good, and he just kept making big plays for them," Lutz said.

After their first two drives stalled at the Bellaire 26 and 25 respectively, Ironton got on the scoreboard first when Nick Collins caught a 46-yard touchdown pass from Chris Collins on an end-around pass as time expired on the first-quarter clock. Nick Collins made a great catch of a ball that appeared to be thrown too long.

"I thought it was over my head," Nick Collins said. "I could only get my left arm out. I just tipped the ball up in the air and caught it."

A.J. Lutz tacked on the extra point and it was 7-0.

Bellaire answered the Fighting Tigers score, though, at the 7:58 mark of the second quarter. As quarterback Nate Davis scrambled wide to the right, pursued by Ironton defensive pressure, he got the ball off just in time and hit Ryan Padgett for a 39-yard touchdown. Keith Sechrost's extra-point kick tied the score at 7-7.

"We did a pretty good job of shutting down their big play except for a couple of times," Lutz said. "(Davis) scrambled out of there, and our biggest concern going into the game was their quarterback scrambling and making a long throw with his strong arm and our coverage breaking down. We were afraid we'd lose a receiver, and that's what happened."

The Ironton defense held the Big Red in check for most of the first half as Davis completed just 7-of-21 passes for 124 yards and the team was only able to gain 18 yards rushing on 11 carries. Ironton, meanwhile, had 121 yards rushing and 85 yards passing in the half.

Before the half would expire, the Fighting Tigers would drive into Big Red territory two more times with no points to show for it.

A drive stalled at the Bellaire 28-yard line and then Lutz missed a 31-yard field goal with 4:01 to play in the first half.

"We kept shooting ourselves in the foot," Lutz said. "We should have had four scores and we only came away with one."

In the third quarter, Ironton came out after the second-half kickoff and went 82 yards in 14 plays, all on the ground. The drive was capped by Marcus Williams' 10-yard run with 5:20 on the clock. Lutz kicked the extra point and it was 14-7.

After a short kickoff was recovered by Bellaire at their own 42, the Big Reds scored seven plays later on a 1-run by Davis. Sechrost kicked the extra point to tie the game with 2:05 left in the third quarter.

Ironton drove deep into Bellaire territory three times in the fourth quarter, but failed to score. One key drive saw the Fighting Tigers stopped inches short of a first down at the Bellaire 19 with 7:54 to play in the game.

Ironton's final drive in regulation stalled at the Bellaire 35 with 14 seconds to play

following four straight incomplete passes.

Ironton victimized itself with fumbles and crucial penalties. Although they lost only one fumble, they fumbled the ball four time, which broke the rhythm of the offense.

"You can't keep making mistakes like that," Lutz said. "Sooner or later they will come back to haunt you, and they did."

Ironton finishes the season 10-2. Bellaire (10-2), will now play in the regional finals at 7 p.m. Saturday against Martins Ferry/Coshocton at a site to be determined.



First Quarter

Irn - Nick Collins 46 pass from Chris Collins (A.J. Lutz kick) 0:00

Second Quarter

Bel - Ryan Padgett 39 pass from Nate Davis (Keith Sechrost kick) 7:58

Third Quarter

Irn - Marcus Williams 10 run (A.J. Lutz kick) 5:20

Bel - Nate Davis 1 run (Keith Sechrost kick) 2:05


Bel - Ryan Padgett 18 pass from Nate Davis (kick failed)

First downs: Bellaire16, Ironton21

Rushes-yards: Bellaire30-102, Ironton57-281

Passing yards: Bellaire183, Ironton92

Total yards: Bellaire285, Ironton373

Cmp-Att-Int: Bellaire12-32-0, Ironton4-10-1

Fumbles-lost: Bellaire0-0, Ironton4-1

Punts-average: Bellaire2-34, Ironton4-31.3

Penalties-yards: Bellaire5-61, Ironton5-50

Individual Leaders

RUSHING - Bellaire: Mike Fisher 18-45, Brock Redman 3-9, Ben Smith 3-13, Bryan Mancini 5-34, Nate Davis 1-1. Ironton: Jarod Murphy 25-132, Derique Bacon 12-84, Marcus Williams 14-69, Josh Sands 6-(-4).

PASSING - Bellaire: Nate Davis . Ironton: Sands 3-9-1 45 yards, Chris Collins 1-1-0 46.

RECEIVING - Bellaire: Ryan Padgett 8-103, Maurice Jeffreys 3-60, Billy Spaur 1-10, Josh Fisher 1-10, Ben Smith 1-2. Ironton: Nick Collins 3-91, Chris Collins 1-1.