Fighting Tigers drive past Wheelersburg
Call it "The Drive II."
Cleveland Browns fans remember - painfully - the drive by Denver that put the Broncos in the Super Bowl.
The Ironton Fighting Tigers came up with their own version of "The Drive" Saturday night in a 7-6 come-from-behind win over the Wheelersburg Pirates.
Stymied most of the game and trailing 6-0 with 11 minutes to play, Ironton put together a 87-yard, 13-play drive, all on the ground, capped by Darius Lewis' 25-yard run with 4:52 to play.
Craig Stamper drilled the extra point and Ironton had the lead.
"When the game's on the line, that cat (Lewis) makes big plays," Ironton coach Bob Lutz said. "That's the strength of us, Murphy and Lewis. We finally got a little room and broke some tackles."
Lewis finished with 115 yards on 16 carries including 79 in the second half.
"(The play) was working all night. They were in tight and I could bounce outside with it," Lewis said. "And I let Jared and Eric know that they were doing it for me all night."
Fullback Jared Murphy and halfback Eric Layne were supplying the key blocks when Lewis ran
"That's what we needed. It gave us some confidence," Layne said.
Wheelersburg had a chance to possibly kick a field goal or score to win the game, but the Pirates struggled with key mistakes the whole game.
Starting at their own 33, quarterback John Storey completed 3 of 4 passes to help get the Pirates to the Ironton 26 with 1:05 to play.
On third down and 8, a flag flew on the snap of the ball as the Pirates were guilty of having only six players on the line of scrimmage. Wheelersburg coach Tony Lewis argued the call and was hit with a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that put the football back on the 46.
Brandon Walker and John Pemberton combined on a quarterback said on third down, and safety Vernon Wilson came up with an interception on fourth down to end the drive with just eight seconds to play.
"Any time you play a good opponent in your opener it's good to get out with a win," Lutz said. "Obviously, we've got a lot of things to work on. But the defense made some big plays. With (John) Pemberton, (Michael) Phillips and (Brandon) Walker inside, we're pretty good."
The game was scoreless until the third quarter when Wheelersburg took the second half kickoff and drove for its touchdown with the aid of a fluke play.
The Pirates got to the Ironton 10-yard line and were faced with a fourth down. Brandon White attempted a 26-yard field goal but the ball squirted to the right and bounced off an Ironton player's chest.
Wheelersburg jumped on the ball and had a first down at the 12.
On third down at the 15, Storey threw a jump ball pass toward the back of the end zone and Drew Spradlin outleaped the Ironton safety for the touchdown.
However, Spradlin spiked the ball and drew a 15-yard penalty. The Pirates elected to go for the two-point conversion but the pass fell incomplete.
Wh - Drew Spradlin 15 pass from John Storey (kick failed) 4:48
Irn - Darius Lewis 25 run (Craig Stamper kick) 4:52
RUSHING – Wheelersburg: Brandon White 13-66, John Storey 9-32, Brandon Jackson 4-11, Chris Pyles 7-26, Kailyb Burgess 6-36; Ironton: Darius Lewis 16-115, Jared Murphy 11-40, Chad Miller 9-32, Dominic Murphy 3-11.
PASSING – Wheelersburg: John Storey 8-18-2
88; Ironton: Chad Miller 0-2-0.
RECEIVING – Wheelersburg: Kailyb Burgess 3-42, Brandon Jackson 4-31, Drew Spradlin 1-15; Ironton: None.
MISSED FIELD GOALS: Wheelersburg 26 (WR).