Fighting Tigers blank Portsmouth, 8-0

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 29, 2004

PORTSMOUTH - With two explosive offenses colliding, it was inevitable what the end result would be.

A classic defensive battle.

The Ironton Fighting Tigers and Portsmouth Trojans came into Friday's game at Spartan Stadium with their offenses in full stride. But it was the defenses that took control as Ironton turned a fumble punt recovery into the game's only score as the Fighting Tigers blanked the Trojans 8-0.

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"They made a mistake and we took advantage of it. That's what good teams do," Ironton coach Bob Lutz said. "In this game, that's what it comes down to. We figured this one was headed for overtime, but we made the plays when we had to. That was a good win."

The Fighting Tigers (8-0) had marched from their own 17 to the Portsmouth 32 starting at the 7:35 mark of the fourth quarter. A third-and-7 play lost 5 and Ironton was forced to punt.

Chad Miller tried to hit the ball softly and the ball came down at the 15. But Steve Carr fumbled the punt and Eric Layne pounced on the ball for Ironton at the Trojans 18 with 1:43 to play.

"I had to fight for it. I took it from someone," Layne said.

Jared Murphy ran for 3 yards, then for 10 more and a first-and-goal at the 5. Darius Lewis went wide left on a sweep and raced into the end zone for the touchdown with 35 seconds to play.

"I was excited when they called the play," Lewis said. "The coaches told me to get 4 yards. Jared (Murphy) made a nice block, Marcus (Williams) led up in the hole and it was wide open. The coaches made a great call."

Williams fought his way into the end zone on the conversion play and it was 8-0.

After the touchdown, Craig Stamper's kickoff bounced off a Portsmouth lineman and Miller recovered. Ironton ran three plays and punted, but Portsmouth had just 11 seconds left to go 73 yards. Three straight passes fell incomplete.

"It might have looked like an onside kick but it was supposed to be a line drive. We were fortunate to get the ball, but we still felt good about our defense even if they got the ball," Lutz said.

Portsmouth, 5-3, had its only scoring threat in the second quarter. The Trojans began the drive 68 yards away and covered all the distance but the final two yards.

Led by Michael Phillips, Patrick Kouns and Andrew Walker, Ironton stopped running back Andrew Newman for no gain on a fourth-and-goal from the 2.

"We just tried to get penetration and not let (Newman) get by us," defensive end Patrick Kouns said. "I didn't expect them to run because they only had to get a yard and a half. They've been know to throw the ball in that situation, though, and we were ready for both."

Lutz praised the defense not only for the goal line stand, but for its overall effort.

"They toed it up, got in the T-formation and we just played goal line," Lutz said. "We made the penetration, and we made the play. That was a heck of a job by our defense, but we've played good defense all year."

Portsmouth coach Curt Clifford could only lament the missed opportunity.

"I knew it was a blown opportunity, and when you have an opportunity against a team like this you can't squander it. And we did," Clifford said. "I thought it would be a low-scoring affair, but I didn't think they would keep us out of the end zone, but they did."

Ironton threatened in the first half when Williams ran 49 yards to the Portsmouth 3-yard line only to have the play nullified by an illegal procedure penalty.

On the next play, Williams caught an 18-yard pass deep into Portsmouth territory only to have the play called back due to another penalty. Ironton was forced to punt and Portsmouth began its only scoring threat.

Murphy led all rushers with 54 yards on 16 carries. Lewis had 45 yards on 12 tries and Williams added 37 on 11 attempts. Ironton had 175 total yards including 136 on the ground.

"They put everyone in the box just like we've seen all year. It seemed like every time we made a big play in the first half we had a penalty and dug ourselves a bigger hole. You can't make those mistakes against good teams," Lutz said.

Portsmouth was limited to 154 total yards. Carr ran 8 times for 50 yards and Newman ran 22 times for 45 yards. Quarterback J.R. Glockner completed 8 of 17 passes but for just 48 yards.

"The only time they hurt us was when they ran the fullback right at us. Other than that, we took Newman away from them," Lutz said.



Fourth Quarter

Irn - Darius Lewis 5 run (Marcus Williams run) 0:35



First downs1211


Passing yards3948

Total yards175154





Time of Possession26:0521:55


Individual Leaders

RUSHING - Ironton: Jared Murphy 16-54, Darius Lewis 12-45, Marcus Williams 11-37, Josh Adkins 2-minus 7; Portsmouth: Steve Carr 8-50, Andrew Newman 22-45, Brad Higgins 2-11.

PASSING - Ironton: Josh Adkins 2-4-1 22, Marcus Williams 1-1-0 17; Portsmouth: J.R. Glockner 8-17-0 48.

RECEIVING - Ironton: Shane Kerns 1-17, Darius Lewis 1-14, Marcus Williams 1-8; Portsmouth: Nick Toppins 1-21, Justin Nelson 4-15, A.J. Johnson 2-8.