Fighting Tigers pass first test

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 7, 2004

It was a case of less being more.

Ironton switched from a four-man pass rush to a three-man front in the second half and the strategy worked in a 41-21 rout of the Westfall Mustangs in the Division IV Region 15 quarterfinals.

The Fighting Tigers had little trouble moving the ball on the ground against the Mustangs defense, but the Ironton defense was still trying to solve Westfall's spread passing attack.

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Ironton coach Bob Lutz solved the problem at halftime.

"In the second half we used a three-man rush and we put in two extra linebackers. Those extra linebackers got in the passing lanes," Lutz said.

Westfall, 7-4, stayed in the game for a little more than a half by utilizing a short-range passing game led by quarterback Wade Bartholomew. But the adjustment by Lutz at halftime changed the Ironton coverage and put a speed bump in the Mustangs game plan.

"Their offense was good. They had a nice package. We basically play a zone defense and (Bartholomew) did a good job of hitting the seams," Lutz said.

Bartholomew was 11 of 18 for 99 yards in the first half, but he was just 6 of 13 for 64 yards and a second interception after the break.

"If you bring them all (on a pass rush), they can pop a big play right now. We didn't give up the deep ball the whole game," Lutz said.

Ironton (10-1) used its trademark power running game to dominate the time of possession. Ironton ran 63 times for 389 yards and chewed up 31:17 of the game's 48 minutes.

"Ironton has three real good backs. Their running game is relentless," Westfall coach Scott Bartholomew said.

Fullback Jared Murphy ran 24 times and pounded the Mustangs defense for 143 yards. Darius Lewis had 16 carries for 110 yards and Marcus Williams got 79 yards on 10 attempts.

Quarterback Josh Adkins had 34 yards on five attempts and scored two touchdowns.

"Coach (Lutz) told me to run hard and lower my shoulder and I did. We wanted to run the ball right at them, and as long as we got on our blocks it was there," Murphy said.

"That's our strength. Run the ball," Lutz said. "(Murphy's) a good back, but all three of our backs can run the ball and break tackles. That's the best Murphy has run all year. He broke tackles."

It was Murphy's 4-yard touchdown run with 10:04 to play that gave Ironton a 35-21 lead and broke all the upset hopes the Mustangs might have had.

Westfall dug itself a quick hole when Bobby Horney dropped the opening kickoff and kicker Craig Stamper recovered at the Mustangs 45.

Ironton was unable to take advantage of the turnover and turned the ball over at the 1-yard line following a 40-yard punt by Chad Miller.

Bartholomew went to the air but was intercepted by Shane Kerns at the 32. Three plays later quarterback Josh Adkins ran 8 yards for the score. Stamper's kick put Ironton up 7-0.

Using short and midrange passes, Westfall drove to the Ironton 2-yard line where Bartholomew hit Horney with a TD pass and it was 7-7.

After an exchange of punts, Ironton drove 92 yards in 11 plays capped by a 5-yard touchdown run by Lewis and it was 14-7.

Westfall came right back as Bartholomew hit 5 of 8 passes in the drive including an 8-yarder to Cole Gantz to tie the game with 4:29 to go in the half.

However, Ironton wasn't finished as the Fighting Tigers went 62 yards in nine plays to go ahead 21-14 at the break. Adkins scored on a sneak with just 49 seconds on the clock.

The Fighting Tigers took the second half kickoff and went 54 yards in six plays. Lewis ran the final 20 yards and the lead was 28-14.

On Westfall's next possession, the Mustangs got to the Ironton 4-yard line before the Fighting Tigers defense stopped the drive. But Ironton fumbled the ball back at the 13-yard line and just three plays later and Bartholomew scored on a 9-yard keeper to make it 28-21.

But Ironton took control from that point, running 28 plays to just four for the Mustangs.

On the ensuing drive, Ironton went 58 yards highlighted by a 21-yard run by Lewis and a 14-yard scamper by Williams. Murphy's 4-yard run extended the lead to 35-21.

A diving interception by Eric Layne three plays into Westfall's next possession gave Ironton the ball as the Mustangs 35. Williams did the honors finishing the drive with a 16-yard jaunt and it was 41-21 with 4:32 to play.

The No. 1 seed Fighting Tigers will play No. 4 New Albany (10-1) at 7:30 p.m. next Friday at a site to be determined, possibly at Portsmouth or Lucasville. New Albany knocked off Portsmouth 24-7 in a regional semifinal.



First Quarter

Irn - Josh Adkins 15 run (Craig Stamper kick) 8:30

Wst - Bobby Horney 2 pass from Wade Bartholomew (Yuhta Suzuki kick) 3:23

Second Quarter

Irn - Darius Lewis 5 run (Craig Stamper kick) 7:32

Wst - Cole Gantz 8 pass from Wade Bartholomew (Yuhta Suzuki kick) 4:29

Irn - Josh Adkins 1 run (Craig Stamper kick) :49

Third Quarter

Irn - Darius Lewis 20 run (Craig Stamper kick) 9:00

Wst - Wade Bartholomew 9 run (Yuhta Suzuki kick) 3:52

Fourth Quarter

Irn - Jared Murphy 4 run (Craig Stamper kick) 10:04

Irn - Marcus Williams 16 run (kick blocked) 4:32



First Downs1623


Passing yards163-4

Total yards217385





Time of Possession16:4331:17


Individual Leaders

RUSHING - Westfall: Wade Bartholomew 15-53, Nick Clark 1-1. Ironton: Jared Murphy 24-143, Darius Lewis 16-110, Marcus Williams 10-79, Josh Adkins 5-34, Andrew Walker 2-10, Joey Zornes 2-9, Eric Layne 2-6, Justin Paulus 1-1, Robbie Downs 1-minus 3.

PASSING - Westfall: Wade Bartholomew 17-31-2 163. Ironton: Josh Adkins 2-3-0

minus 4.

RECEIVING - Westfall: D.J. Roberts 6-68, Cole Gantz 3-31, Bobby Horney 3-29, Matt Riffe 1-19, Evan Keller 1-1. Ironton: Darius Lewis 1-minus 2, Marcus Williams 1-minus 2.