When opportunity knocked, Tres Wilks didn’t open the door.
He ripped it off its hinges.
When starting halfback J.P. Taylor left after being knocked out on the game’s fifth play, Wilks stepped in and ran for 138 yards on just four carries and scored four touchdowns — two on punt returns — as the Ironton Fighting Tigers rolled past the Russell Red Devils 45-0 Friday.
“I would rather J.P. not have got hurt than to do all this. I really mean it,” said Wilks. “I don’t want any of my teammates to get hurt.”
The speedy junior took advantage of the opportunity by rushing for 138 yards on four carries including a 91-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. He also returned punts 64 and 75 yards for touchdowns and added a 21-yard scoring run in the second quarter as the Fighting Tigers routed the Russell (Ky.) Red Devils 45-0 Friday.
“We were just talking (before the game) and we said (Willks) needed to get some more reps,” said Ironton coach Bob Lutz.
“He can run. He’s probably our fastest guy. He did a helluva job. We were a little sluggish at first. His (91-yard) run broke the ice.”
Ironton (2-0) racked up 316 total yards against a Russell defense that came into the without allowing an opponent score.
Besides being held scoreless, Russell was limited to 94 total yards and just 6 through the air.
“If you play defense, you’ve got a chance,” said Lutz.
Both defense held firm early. Russell stopped Ironton’s opening drive at the Red Devils’ 24 as the Fighting Tigers failed to get a first down on fourth-and-one.
After a series of punts, Ironton was pinned back at its own 5-yard line. On second and 5,Wilks bolted virtually untouched through the Russell defensive line and raced down the middle of the field to the end zone.
“It was supposed to be 12 wedge but (quarterback) Ethan Preston audibled and the hole just opened up. It was huge. The ends turned the safeties our and I ran right down the middle,” said Wilks.
Russell coach Ivan McGlone pointed to the play as the turning point.
“The first quarter we pin them back and they go 91 yards on a dive play. Their skill and speed just took over the game,” said McGlone.
Russell (2-1) was forced to punt on the third play of the second quarter and Wilks returned it 75 yards for a touchdown to make it 13-0.
Michael Lawless came up with an interception and Ironton had the ball at the 40. Eight plays later Wilks scooted 21 yards for the touchdown. He also added the conversion run and it was 21-0.
The Red Devils attempted to get the first down on a fourth-and-one at their own 41 but were stuffed by the Ironton defense.
A 25-yard run by Wilks got the ball in position for Keith Wetzel to boom a 27-yard field goal.
The Fighting Tigers opened the game up in the third quarter thanks to special teams play.
Russell had a bad snap on punt and then a personal foul penalty moved the ball to the 8-yard line. Wetzel scored on the next play and it was 31-0.
The defense did hits job and held again to force a punt and Wilks’ 64-yard punt return put the game away.
Russell 0 0 0 0 = 0
Ironton 7 17 14 7 = 45
Irn — Tres Wilks 91 run ((Keith Wetzel kick) 0:51
Irn — Tres Wilks 75 punt return (kick failed) 11:05
Irn — Tres Wilks 21 run (Wilks run) 5:05
Irn — Keith Wetzel 27 field goal 0:32
Irn — Keith Wetzel 8 run (Wetzel kick) 9:49
Irn — Tres Wilks 64 punt return (Keith Wetzel kick) 5;04
Irn — Leron Beach 2 run (Keith Wetzel kick) 2:49
First downs 5 12
Rushes-yards 40-88 36-296
Passing yards 6 20
Total yards 94 316
Cmp-Att-Int 1-4-1 1-3-0
Fumbles-lost 2-0 0-0
Penalties-yards 2-22 2-20
Punts-average 4-35.5 1-43.0
RUSHING—Russell: Travis Jones 14-35, Will Rice 5-15, Logan Dehoff 7-19, Jesse White 8-28, Zach Thompson 2-6, Jordan Roark 1-0, Michael Pennington 1-0, Justin Davidson 1-2, team 1-minus 17; Ironton: Tres Wilks 4-138, Tyler Hager 5-42, Keith Wetzel 8-30, Brian Warner 6-28, J.P. Taylor 1-6, Michael Lawless 4-26, Leron Beach 3-21, Tommy Waginger 1-10, Ethan Preston 4-minus 5.
PASSING—Russell: Logan Dehoff 1-2-0 6, Brandon Sparks 0-2-1. Ironton: Ethan Preston 1-3-0 20.
RECEIVING—Russell: Jesse White 1-6; Ironton: J.P. Taylor 1-20.