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Fighting Tigers stop Buckeyes 43-28

It was an old defensive plan. The Ironton Fighting Tigers had seen it hundreds of times throughout the years.

In an attempt to shut down the Ironton power running game, the Nelsonville-York Buckeyes employed eight to 10 defenders in the box to entice the Fighting Tigers to throw the ball.

They did.

Using a balanced offense that amassed 504 total yards, Ironton picked up a pivotal 43-28 win over the Buckeyes Friday night.

Quarterback Johnathon Schweickart completed 11 of 15 attempts for 223 yards and two touchdowns. Michael Lamb caught four passes for 102 yards and a score while Lukas Morris had four receptions for 87 yards and a touchdown. Each caught a conversion pass.

“We’re not afraid to throw the ball. We can throw the ball and we will if that’s what we need to do,” said Ironton coach Bob Lutz. “They stacked the line of scrimmage which means something else has to be open.

“Schweickart has a good, strong arm and we’ve got guys who can catch it and make big plays.”

Schweickart said the Fighting Tigers were prepared for the Buckeyes’ defense.

“They knew we were a running team and running teams know how to stop another running team. But we knew they would have trouble stopping the pass,” said Schweickart.

“If not for my receivers and my line, I’d have nothing. Lukas and Lamb made some great catches. It was a good all-around game.”

Ironton’s running game did take a back seat. The Fighting Tigers ran 43 times for 281 yards as Chance Freeman carried 15 times for 137 yards. Major Brice had 69 yards on seven tries and Keith Wetzel added 65 yards on 14 attempts.

Nelsonville-York had some big offensive numbers as well, especially in the first half. The Buckeyes finished with 395 total yards but only 107 came in the second half and 75 on the final drive of the game when Ironton loosened its defensive alignment.

Workhorse tailback Derek Arnold carried 29 times for 165 yards and caught five passes for 33 yards. He also had a 68-yard kickoff return to set up the Buckeyes’ second score.

“He was a good back. He ran hard,” said Lutz.

Ironton (6-3) virtually clinched a home game in the playoffs with the win. A win over Warren next week would not only make it official, but would leave Ironton among the top three finishers in Region 15 of Division IV.

Nelsonville-York came into the game leading Region 19 of Division V. The Buckeyes (7-2) should still get a home game but missed out on finishing first in the region.

The Buckeyes took an 8-0 lead in the first quarter with a 88-yard, nine-play drive. Arnold carried eight times including the final 5 yards. Quarterback Michael Barrick ran for the conversion.

Ironton needed just two plays to tie the game. Morris caught a 52-yard pass to the 11-yard line and Freeman scored on the next play.

Morris caught the conversion pass and it was 8-8.

N-Y drove to the Ironton 18 but Barrick was brought down for a 4-yard loss on a fourth-and-one play.

The Fighting Tigers then marched to the Buckeyes 4-yard line only to fumble just before crossing the goal line.

Following a N-Y punt, Lamb caught a pass, stiff-armed a defender and raced 52 yards for the touchdown. Schweickart’s conversion kick made it 15-8.

But the Buckeyes took the lead on the next play with a flea-flicker and wide receiver Mark Campbell took a pitchout on a reverse and threw to Josh Dickerson for a 65-yard touchdown pass.

Arnold ran for the conversion and N-Y led 16-15 at the half.

“We have to do things the hard way,” said Lutz. “We played better the second half. We shoved it right at them and we finally made a couple of stops on defense.”

Ironton nose guard Tony Murphy said Lutz challenge the team.

“Adversity,” said Murphy. “Coach Lutz told us he wanted to see how we handled adversity. He wanted to see how we came back. I think we grew up a lot tonight.”

Ironton answered the challenge by scoring on all four possessions in the second half.

The opening drive went 49 yards in nine plays capped by a 17-yard scoring strike to Morris. Lamb caught the conversion pass and it was 23-16.

Arnold’s kickoff return to the Ironton 28 set up a 15-yard touchdown run by Austin McDonald and it was 23-22.

Aided by a 19-yard pass to Freeman and 27-yarder to Lamb, Ironton scored five plays later on a 5-yard burst by Wetzel and it was 29-22.

The Buckeyes had a drive that stalled at the Ironton 27 and the Fighting Tigers made their hosts pay.

A 40-yard run by Brice sparked the eight-play drive — all on the ground — with Schweickart going the final yard for the score.

An interception by Tommy Waginger gave Ironton the ball back at the 41 and five plays later Brice bolted 13 yards into the end zone and it was 43-22 with 2:21 to play.

Arnold’s 1-yard run with just 13 seconds left set the final score.

Ironton 8 7 14 14 = 43

Nelsonville 8 8 6 6 = 28

First Quarter

NY – Derek Arnold 5 run (Michael Barrick run) 3:49

Irn – Chance Freeman 11 run (Lukas Morris pass from Johnathon Schweickart) 3:18

Second Quarter

Irn – Michael Lamb 52 pass from Johnathon Schweickart (Schweickart kick) 4:17

NY – Josh Dickerson 65 pass from Mark Campbell (Derek Arnold run) 4:06

Third Quarter

Irn – Lukas Morris 17 pass from Johnathon Schweickart (Michael Lamb pass from Johnathon Schweickart) 7:08

NY – Austin McDonald 15 run (pass failed) 5:47

Irn – Keith Wetzel 5 run (kick blocked) 4:03

Fourth Quarter

Irn – Johnathon Schweickart 1 run (Schweickart kick) 6:42

Irn – Major Brice 13 run (Schweickart kick) 2:21

NY – Derek Arnold 1 run (pass failed) 0:13

—————

Irn N-Y

First downs 22 16

Rushes-yards 43-281 38-224

Passing yards 223 171

Total yards 504 395

Cmp-Att-Int 11-16-1 11-18-1

Fumbles-lost 2-1 1-1

Penalties-yards 3-15 5-30

Punts-average 1-39.0 1-25.0

—————

Individual Leaders

RUSHING–Ironton: Chance Freeman 15-137, Keith Wetzel 14-65, Major Brice 7-69, Erin Edens 1-3, Johnathon Schweickart 6-7. Nelsonville: Derek Arnold 29-165, Michael Barrick 5-28, Austin McDonald 2-17, Justin Cunningham 2-14.

PASSING–Ironton: Johnathon Schweickart 11-15-1 223, Chance Freeman 0-1. Nelsonville: Michael Barrick 10-16-1 106, Mark Campbell 1-2 65.

RECEIVING–Ironton: Michael Lamb 4-102, Lukas Morris 4-87, Chance Freeman 3-34. Nelsonville: Derek Arnold 5-33, Josh Dickerson 2-72, Mark Campbell 2-25, Conner Bunting 1-6.

MISSED FIELD GOALS: None.