Ironton controls Gallia

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 14, 2007

GALLIPOLIS — It’s mine and you can’t have it.

The Ironton Fighting Tigers held the football for nearly three-quarters of the game by using a punishing ground game en route to a 29-26 win over the Gallipolis Blue Devils Friday in a Southeastern Ohio Athletic League game.

Ironton controlled the ball for 33:29 and amassed 362 yards rushing on 66 carries. Gallipolis used just 14:31 of the clock.

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Three Ironton runners cracked 100 yards rushing as Chance Freeman had 152 on 23 carries, Major Brice 106 on 16 tries, and Murphy 100 yards on 23 attempts.

But a controversial fumble and some costly mistakes helped Gallipolis prevent the game from becoming a rout.

“We felt like the game was never in doubt. We controlled the ball and moved it up and down the field. We had a couple of fumbles and some mistakes that killed a couple of drives where we should have scored,” said Ironton coach Bob Lutz.

Ironton scored on its first possession with a 9-play, 84-yard drive that ended when Murphy plowed his way into the end zone from 9 yards out. Jon Schweickart kicked the conversion.

The Fighting Tigers started a drive at their own 27 in the first quarter that ended with 8:58 left in the second quarter as Major Brice ran 7 yards for his first career touchdown and a 14-0 lead.

After a Gallipolis punt, Ironton marched 79 yards in 15 plays and Freeman ended the drive with a 7-yard scoring run with just 30 seconds on the clock.

Butch Marnhout returned the kickoff 32 yards to the Ironton 44. Quarterback Kruize Wandling scrambled out of the pocket, slipped through three tackles and ran 46 yards to the 10.

A penalty put the ball on the 5 and Wandling hit former quarterback Shawn Thompson for the scoring pass.

“We went up three touchdowns and relaxed. We missed some tackles and their quarterback made a nice play. We should have put them away in the first half,” said Lutz.

After an Ironton punt to start the second half, Gallipolis drove for a score as Wandling hit three passes, the last one for 22 yards to Cody Noble to make it 21-19.

But Ironton answered with a 75-yard, 12-play drive highlighted by a fourth-and-7 pass to Marc Carter. Murphy knocked tacklers out of the way as he scored from 13 yards out for the score.

Gallipolis was offside on the conversion so Ironton opted to go for two

Murphy scored to make it was 29-13 with 1:07 left in the third.

Four more pass completions by Wandling including a 14-yard scoring strike to Noble from 22 yards out and it was 29-19.

Ironton had another long drive that reached the Gallipolis 39. Murphy ran for 3 yards and was pushed backwards two yards with no whistle blown. Gallipolis recovered only to turn the ball back over on Freeman’s second interception of the game at the 1-yard line.

Ironton could only move the ball to the 20 and punted. Gallipolis managed to score on a 10-yard run by Wandling, but it came with 19 seconds left and Ironton recovered the onsides kickoff to seal the win.

“We didn’t play well on defense from the end of the first half on, but you have to give credit to Gallipolis. We told our kids all week they would hit and keep coming at you,” said Lutz.

Ironton is now 5-2 overall and 4-0 in the SEOAL with three tough games to close the season. The Fighting Tigers will be heavy underdogs as they host Portsmouth this week followed by Zanesville and then a trip to title favorite Logan.

Gallipolis falls to 2-5 and 0-4.