Fighting Tigers can#039;t clip Eagles wings

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 14, 2004

ATHENS - When you reach the playoffs, you have to bring your "A" game.

The Ironton Fighting Tigers showed up for Friday's Division IV Region 15 semifinal game against the New Albany Eagles with a B-minus on its report card.

Ironton squandered a solid defensive effort with its most lackluster offensive showing in a 10-0 loss to New Albany.

Email newsletter signup

New Albany (11-1) got the game's only touchdown thanks to a blown coverage in the Ironton secondary and a field goal following a fumble deep in Fighting Tigers territory.

Ironton had three turnovers, but coach Bob Lutz said that was not the key factor in the loss.

"(The turnovers) just enabled them to score 10 points. The difference is we didn't block a soul all night," Lutz said. "The things we were able to do all year we didn't do tonight. Give them credit. They handled us up front.

"Defensively, we played well overall. We just got beat on a deep pass. We had trouble blocking their tackles and ends. They stuffed our ends and the tackles pinched at times and blew up plays."

After exchanging punts to start the game, New Albany began its second drive at its own 46. A 9-yard run by Jacob Gilson gave the Eagles a first down at the Ironton 38, and then a 35-yard pass from Matt Rippl to Mitch Robertson put the ball at the Ironton 3-yard line.

Three plays later Derek Reighard scored on a 2-yard run and Patrick Weldon's conversion kick put the Eagles up 7-0 at the 3:48 mark.

Ironton finally threatened late in the half.

Marcus Williams had a 13-yard run to start the drive and move the ball to the 38. Five more runs got the ball to the New Albany 44-yard line and a 7-yard pass to Darius Lewis from Josh Adkins gave Ironton a first down at the 37.

But a second down pass intended for Shane Kerns who got behind the secondary was into the wind held up long enough enabled Mark Childs to come up with the interception at the 4-yard line with 1:08 left in the half.

The Fighting Tigers got the ball to start the second half and Jared Murphy ran 11 yards for a first down at the 31. But two plays later, Ironton fumbled and the Eagles recovered at the 35.

New Albany got to the 20 before the Ironton defense held and forced Weldon to kick a 37-yard field goal that extended the lead to 10-0 with 8:17 left in the third quarter.

"I thought we should have been able to move the ball," Lutz said. "We'd pop the fullback through there and then come with the second back and get nothing. We got behind 10-0 and then you try to do stuff you don't do well. We can't get in a throwing contest."

The Fighting Tigers came right back with another scoring threat that was set up by a 37-yard kickoff return by Lewis to the 45.

A 31-yard pass from Adkins to Williams on first down got the ball to the Eagles 24, but a 2-yard gain by Williams was all Ironton could muster on the next two plays and two incomplete passes gave the ball back to New Albany.

With Chad Miller batting down a long pass and Adam Ferguson coming making a big stop on Rippl, Ironton's defense forced a punt and Ironton had the ball at the 37.

But again the drive stalled as Ironton got to the Eagles 45 before being forced to punt.

The next possession ended with Nick Smith picking off a third down pass at the Ironton 44. Ironton held and got the ball back at the 28 and moved to midfield before Lewis was tackled for a loss on a fourth down play with 24 seconds remaining in the game.

"We had one of our best weeks of practice. We did a lot of physical work. I thought we were ready to play. We could never get into the flow. You have to get a first down before you can do anything else," Lutz said.

Ironton finished 10-2 and said good-bye to seniors Williams, Adkins, Kerns, Ferguson, Patrick Kouns, Josh Carty, Andrew Walker, Tyler McDaniels, Greg Igo, Willie Cremeans, Brandon Matkins and Ryan Walker.

"We had a pretty good year," Lutz said. "The toughest part of the schedule was at the end of year.

"We beat Portsmouth and didn't play well, we played well the next week against a good Belfry team, and we played horrible against DeSales and still should have won.

"It's always tough to lose that last game. But this group worked hard and gave us a great effort starting back with physical fitness in

July. They were a good bunch to coach."

New Albany will play Martins Ferry next Friday in the regional finals. Martins Ferry blasted Bellaire 37-7.

New Albany7030-10


First Quarter

NA - Derek Reighard 2 run (Patrick Weldon kick) 3:48

Third Quarter

NA - Patrick Weldon 37 field goal




First downs119


Passing yards7167

Total yards188174





Time of Possession28:1819:42


Individual Leaders

RUSHING - New Albany: Gentry Zacheis 10-43, Derek Reighard 18-34, Jacob Gilson 6-27, Matt Rippl 8-9, Patrick McDonough 2-4. Ironton: Darius Lewis 13-40, Jared Murphy 10-35, Marcus Williams 5-26, Chad Miller 1-10, Josh Adkins 3-2, Shane Kerns 1-minus 6.

PASSING - New Albany: Matt Rippl 7-13-0

71. Ironton: Josh Adkins 7-15-2


RECEIVING - New Albany: Mitch Robertson 3-45, Jacob Gilson 2-17, Patrick Weldon 1-5, Derek Reighard 1-4. Ironton: Marcus Williams 3-43, Shane Kerns 1-12, Darius Lewis 2-11, Tyler McDaniels 1-1.