Ironton pops Jackson, 54-6

Published 12:23 am Sunday, October 5, 2008

The sound of victory starts with a pop.

The popping sound that was heard Friday night came from the Ironton Fighting Tigers as they rattled the Jackson Ironmen 54-6 in a Southeastern Ohio Athletic League game.

“We hit people. That’s encouraging. It all starts with that,” said Ironton coach Bob Lutz. “We made big plays on offense and defense and special teams, and we took care of the ball.”

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Turnovers have haunted the Fighting Tigers (4-3, 2-2). They’ve had at least three turnovers in each of their three losses.

Ironton finished with 574 total yards including 56 rushing attempts for 491 yards.

Chance Freeman ran for 112 yards on just 11 carries and turned two short passes into touchdowns covering 73 yards.

Fullback Erin Edens had 82 yards on 14 tries and Major Brice had 60 yards on seven rushes. Backup halfback Paris Birchfield ran nine times for 101 yards.

“We blocked them. Tony (Murphy), Sam (Cramblit) and Michael (Lamb) are pretty good. We’re better with Murphy at guard. He gives us some force in there,” said Lutz.

The Ironton defense limited Jackson to150 total yards. The usually high-powered running game managed only 85 yards. However, leading rusher Cody Huff was injured on the first play of the game after gaining 24 yards. He did not return.

“Our linebackers did a good job,” Lutz said of Brian Warner and Edens. “We made plays in all phases of the game.”

After Huff was hurt, Jackson managed to get another first down before dropping a punt back to the 4-yard line.

Ironton then marched 96 yards in 13 plays capped by a 6-yard pass from Johnathon Schweickart to Lukas Morris.

A penalty on the conversion enticed Ironton to go for two, but the play failed and it was 6-0.

A three-and-out gave Ironton the ball at its own 25-yards line. The Fighting Tigers went on a 10-play drive that end on a 2-yard run by Edens behind a block by Murphy.

Special teams took center stage on the next series.

Ironton’s Allen Raney blocked a punt and Jon Monnig scooped up the ball and returned it 43 yards for a touchdown.

“My guy blocked down and I didn’t get touched. There was a big gap so I just took it,” said Raney.

Monnig, a junior defensive end, was excited about his first career touchdown.

“Casey (Jones) tried to jump on it and missed it and it went off his fingers. I was there and took it to the house,” said Monnig.

Another Jackson punt gave Ironton the ball at the 43. Four plays later, Freeman took a screen pass and ran 57 yards for a touchdown and it was 27-0.

On Jackson’s next series, Morris picked off a pass and returned it 27 yards for a touchdown to extend the lead to 33-0 with 3:02 to play in the half.

The Fighting Tigers took the second half kickoff and went 75 yards in 11 plays capped by a 16-yard pass to Freeman. Schweickart’s kick made it 40-0.

Ironton’s second team offense took over on the next possession. On second-and-10, quarterback Ethan Preston kept the ball and raced 50 yards for a touchdown. Keith Wetzel kicked the extra point and it was 47-0.

The final Ironton touchdown came on an 8-yard burst by Paris Birchfield to culminate a 65-yard, nine-play march.

Jackson (5-2, 2-2) scored its only touchdown on an 80-yard kickoff return by Derrick Meredith with 7:27 to play. Ironically, Jackson did not run an offensive play in the fourth quarter.

The win was worth a total of 30 computer points for the Fighting Tigers who stood at No. 8 in Region 15 of the Division IV playoff ratings.

“We can’t afford any more losses,” said Lutz.