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Turnovers doom Fighting Tigers, 20-14

COLUMBUS — To error is human. To error four times is lethal.

Ironton committed four turnovers and was whistled for eight penalties in a tough 20-14 loss to the Olentangy Liberty Patriots Friday night.

“We turned it over too many times,” Ironton coach Merril Triplett Jr. said. “We have to get sharper. We have to eliminate mistakes.”

Liberty, a Division II school that has made two straight playoff appearances, took advantage of two Ironton turnovers to score touchdowns.

“We just don’t have the depth,” said Triplett. “They only had three players who went both ways.”

Ironton ate up more than seven minutes to start the game with a drive to the 23. But a holding penalty pushed the ball back to the 27 and Chad Miller’s first down pass was intercepted at the 20-yad line.

Liberty got a break early in the second quarter when Ironton fumbled the ball way at the 41-yard line. On fourth-and-5 and the 11-yard line, Ryan Cypret hit Sam Hilty with a touchdown pass and it was 7-0.

Ironton had another drive to the 18-yard line that stalled when Miller was caught for a 7-yard loss.

Four plays later, Cypret clicked with Sean Williams on a 60-yard catch-and-run play for a touchdown and it was 14-0 with just 44 seconds to go in the half.

But Ironton responded in rapid fashion.

A 35-yard pass to Marc Carter got the ball to the 1-yard line where Dominic Murphy scored on the next play. Craig Stamper’s kick made it 14-7 with 14 seconds on the clock.

Ironton (1-1) tied the game at 14-14 on a 14-yard scamper by Dominic Murphy with 10:09 to play. The play capped a 69-yard, 8-play drive.

Liberty found itself at its own 5-yard line when Ryan Taele slipped on the ensuing kickoff.

Ironton forced a punt and had the ball at its own 40. Tony Murphy bulled his way for 22 yards to the 18 but suffered an ankle injury on the play and left the game. He did not return.

Two plays later, Ironton fumbled the ball away at the 15 with 8:11 left.

“They hit us harder than any team we’ve played. They have a great program. When their fullback got hurt that changed things,” Liberty coach Steve Hale said.

Liberty (2-0) quickly capitalized on the turnover.

Taele ran for 15 yards and then quarterback Cypret hit Taele over the middle on a 68-yard catch-and-run play before being caught from behind by Dominic Murphy at the 2-yard line.

After a 1-yard loss, Taele scooted into the end zone. The fake on the conversion failed and it was 20-14 with 3:11 left.

The Fighting Tigers got the ball at the Liberty 44 after the kickoff but couldn’t generate a drive.

Miller ran for 4 yards, threw an incomplete pass that was dropped at the 10-yard line and was sacked for a 15-yard loss.

An incompletion on fourth down gave the ball back to Liberty with just 53 seconds to play.

Tony Murphy rushed for 107 yards on 19 carries. Dominic Murphy added 64 yards on 14 tries and scored twice. Miller threw for 81 yards.

Cypret was 5 of 10 passing for 158 yards as Liberty racked up 331 total yards including 173 on the ground.