Westfall outscores Fighting Tigers in Division IV quarterfinals
WILLAMSPORT – It has been said that time is nobody’s friend. The Ironton Fighting Tigers would agree with that.
In a wild shootout, Ironton ran out of time in a 42-35 loss to the unbeaten Westfall Mustangs Friday in the quarterfinals of the Division IV playoffs.
“They made one more big play than we did. Give us 30 more seconds and we would have scored again,” Ironton head coach Merril Triplett said.
The last big play was a 29-yard scoring strike from Kevin Smith to Jack Gose, a 6-foot-3 wide receiver who outjumped the smaller Ironton secondary to make the touchdown catch with just 45 seconds to play.
Ironton tried to stage a miracle rally as Andy Colegrove caught a 17-yard pass from Chad Miller to the Westfall 38. Miller ran twice for 6 yards, but a third down pass to the end zone was intercepted by David Jordan with three seconds to play.
“Our kids played hard. There were a dozen little things we do and we win or a dozen things they do,” Triplett said.
The two teams combined for 764 yards of offense. Ironton had 305 total yards as the Fighting Tigers ran for 210 and passed for another 95.
Westfall, ranked No. 7 in the final Associated Press poll, got 247 on the ground and 212 through the air as quarterback Kevin Smith ran 28 times for 146 yards and had all the passing yards.
Chad Miller, who split time between halfback and quarterback, rushed for 154 yards while throwing for 94.
“It was a battle between Miller and Smith,” Triplett said.
Ironton had gone up 35-28 with 8:46 left in the game on a 5-yard run by fullback Tony Murphy. The run capped a 57-yard, 8-play drive that began on the first play of the fourth quarter.
Westfall answered on a 31-yard pass from Smith to Gose to tie the game with 5:31 on the clock.
On the play, Ironton’s defensive back Bub Johnon slipped and fell just before the ball arrived. However, it appeared as though Gose pushed off causing Johnson to fall.
Ironton went three-and-out on its next possession and had to punt, thus giving the ball back to the Mustangs with who went 60 yards in six plays for the winning score. Smith carried four times for 29 yards in the drive including a 13-yard scamper to the 29 that set up the touchdown pass.
The game was scoreless at the end of the first quarter, but Westfall snapped the deadlock on the third play of the third quarter as Gose caught a third-and-goal scoring pass from 3 yards out. Cameron Puckett kicked the first of six conversions.
Gose finished with seven catches for 151 yards and three TDs.
It didn’t take Ironton to respond. On the second play after the kickoff, Marc Carter caught a short out pass, cut back across the field and went 60 yards for the touchdown The conversion kick was ruled wide right and Ironton trailed 7-6.
Colegrove came up with an interception on Westfall’s second play after the kickoff and returned it to the Westfall 20. Five plays later Miller scored from 6 yards out. Miller also ran for the conversion and Ironton led 14-7.
The Mustangs used a questionable interference call on its next series to get a firt down at the Ironton 27.
After Smith was tackled for a 1-yard loss by John Pemberton, he threw a 29-yard touchdown pass to Seth Hardin who caught the ball in stride on his fingertips.
“They’re receivers just made some great catches and their quarterback is a great player,” Triplett said.
Ironton got a touchdown just before the half when Colegrove blocked a punt and T.J. Keith grabbed the ball off the bounce and ran 10 yards for the score. Stamper’s kick made it 21-14 with just 51 seconds until halftime.
“T.J. Keith played on a hurt leg all year and he wouldn’t complain. He’s a kid who wanted to play,” Triplett said.
Miller came up with yet another big play to start the second half. After he gained one yard on first down, he bolted 56 yards for the touchdown on the next play and it was now 28-14.
Westfall scored on a 4-yard run by Smith to cap a 71-yard march and it was 28-21.
After trading punts, Ironton fumbled at its own 33 and Westfall recovered. Four plays later Smith went 12 yards for the score and the game was tied with just three seconds left in the quarter.
That set the stage for the wild finish.
With the loss, Ironton finishes the season 6-5. It marked the team’s 25th postseason appearance overall and ninth in a row.
“I’m not a bit disappointed in them. As a team unit they play solid. The kids played at a high intensity level. I thought they gave a great effort. They put on a great show for the fans,” Triplett said.
W – Jack Gose 3 pass from Kevin Smith (Cameron Puckett) 10:42
Irn – Marc Carter 60 pass from Chad Miller (kick failed) 9:42
Irn – Chad Miller 6 run (Miller run) 6:27
W – Seth Hardin 29 pass from Kevin Smith (Cameron Puckett kick) 4:05
Irn – T.J. Keith 10 blocked punt return (Craig Stamper kick) 0:51
Irn – Chad Miller 56 run (Craig Stamper kick) 11:02
W – Kevin Smith 4 run (Cameron Puckett kick) 6:32
W – Kevin Smith 12 run (Cameron Puckett kick) 0:03
Irn – Tony Murphy 5 run (Craig Stamper kick) 8:46
W – Jack Gose 31 pass from Kevin Smith (Cameron Puckett kick) 5:31
W – Jack Gose 29 pass from Kevin Smith (Cameron Puckett kick) 0:45
Time of Possession18:5129:09
RUSHING-Ironton: Chad Miller 30-154, Tony Murphy 7-33, Craig Stamper 2-4, Branden Sites 1-2, Bub Johnson 1-4, Marc Carter 1-13; Westfall: Kevin Smith 28-146, Seth Hardin 11-69, Nick Clark 7-16, Jack Gose 1-16.
PASSING-Ironton: Chad Miller 4-6-2 94, Drew Kuehne 1-1-0 1; Westfall: 11-151 212.
RECEIVING-Ironton: Marc Carter 1-60, T.J. Keith 3-18, Andy Colegrove 1-17; Westfall: Jack Gose 7-151, Seth Hardin 4-53, Skylar Gibson 1-8.