Talk about learning on the run.
Our Lady of Mount Carmel — a school of 1,800 students — rolled into Tanks Memorial Stadium and neither the Crusaders nor Ironton Fighting Tigers knew much about each other or how good the other team might be.
The Crusaders learned quickly about Ironton as the Fighting Tigers scored on their first two plays of the game en route to a 54-6 rout of the Candian visitors from Mississauga, Ontario.
“We didn’t have any idea what we were getting into with this team. We could have been running into a buzzsaw. But they were what they were,” said Ironton coach Bob Lutz.
“They had some nice skilled players. Their running back (Raul Thompson) could play for anyone, their quarterback had a nice arm but they had trouble catching the ball, and they had a nice linebacker (Steve Mayen).”
The Crusaders skilled players were no match for Ironton’s overall talent. The Fighting Tigers amassed 471 total yards including 314 on the ground.
Chance Freeman had six carries for 67 yards and three touchdowns to lead a balanced running game. Keith Wetzel had 59 yards on nine carries and Major Brice added 54 yards on seven tries.
Ironton quarterback Johnathan Schweickart was 6-of-10 for 111 yards and a touchdown. Michael Lamb caught four passes for 139 yards and a score.
Lukas Morris completed the other Ironton pass for 50 yards.
Ironton (1-1) did not throw a pass in the second half.
“The first half we wanted to spread the field and mix it up. We ran some and threw some, but in the second half our plan was to run the ball every down,” said Lutz.
It was the first game of the season for Our Lady of Mount Carmel. The Crusaders have only been practicing for about seven days.
“Our playbook was very limited,” said Crusaders coach Ed Ponikvar. “We were missing a couple of guys and we were slow to get started. It took awhile to get in rhythm.
“They’re well-coached and they execute well. But we were treated well and this is the biggest crowd we’ve ever played in front of. I can’t say enough good things about this place and the people here.”
Mount Carmel fumbled on the second play of the game and Jon Monnig recovered at the 16-yard line. Freeman scored on the next play and it was 7-0.
Ironton forced a punt on the next series and the Crusaders had a bad snap. Ironton took over at the 1-yard line. After a 5-yard penalty, Wetzel scored on the next play and it was 14-0.
Ironton got the ball back at its own 46 and six plays later Brice ran 3 yards for the score and it was 21-0.
A 33-yad pass to Michael Lamb to the Crusaders’ 16 set up 9-yard scoring run by Freeman early in the second quarter.
Mount Carmel went three-and-out and it took Ironton one play to cover 50 yards as Schweickart hit Lamb on a touchdown pass.
“If you get the ball in his area, he’s going to catch it,” Lutz said of Lamb.
The Crusaders got their only touchdown with 3:26 left in the half when quarterback Jahmari Bennett fumbled a fourth down snap and then scramble 32 yards for the score.
But Ironton used a 46-yard pass from Lukas Morris to Lamb to set up Freeman’s 1-yard run as time ran out to end the half and it was 41-6.
Wetzel scored his second touchdown on a 3-yard run on the second play of the fourth quarter and backup J.P.Taylor ran 21 yards for Ironton’s final touchdown with just under a minute to play.
Thompson led all rushers with 116 yards on 21 carries.