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Ashland finally ends Ironton win streak

ASHLAND, Ky. — Halley’s Comet comes around once every 75 years. Fans at Putnam Stadium Friday night couldn’t wait until 2061, so they settled for an Ashland win over the Ironton Fighting Tigers.

With the aid of three costly self-inflicted Ironton fumbles, Ashland snapped a 17-game losing streak dating back to 1990 as the Tomcats beat the Fighting Tigers 26-12.

“We didn’t take care of the ball and that’s one of the big things you have to do in a big game,” said Ironton coach Bob Lutz.

“They made big plays when they had to and we didn’t. Their quarterback played well for them and their offensive line was able to stymie our guys. And we didn’t tackle well.”

Both teams came into the game unbeaten and relying on strong defenses. But Ashland had 344 total yards and Ironton racked up 307 yards despite the three fumbles.

“I said before the game that’s as good a club as I’ve seen them have coming in. They had some good hits and we had some good hits. We just laid it on the ground,” said Lutz.

Ashland (5-0) came out on the first series of the game and marched 77 yards using 11 plays with Dominic Demartino scoring on a 3-yard run. Quarterback Sam Hunter ran for the conversion and it was 8-0.

But Ironton wasted little time answering. Two plays after the kickoff, Tres Wilks raced 62 yards down the sidelines and it was now 8-6.

The emotionally-charged Tomcats came right back themselves.

A 41-yard pass from Hunter to Drew Royalty got the ball to the Ironton 26. Seven plays later Hunter found Cody Withrow on a 10-yard scoring pass and it was 14-6 with 1:57 left in the first quarter.

Ironton fumbled the kickoff and Ashland had the ball at the Fighting Tigers’ 36. But the defense held as Hunter was hit by Ironton’s Jon Monnig for a 10-yard loss. Hunter’s fumble on the play was immaterial since it was fourth down.

The Fighting Tigers used the momentum to go 60 yards in seven plays capped by Keith Wetzel’s 32-yard touchdown run through the teeth of Ashland’s JAWS defense. The conversion failed and Ironton still trailed 14-12 with nine minutes left in the half.

Ironton (3-1) got the ball back at its own 21 with 1:56 left in the half and quickly moved down the field. A 24-yard run by Wetzel and passes of 26 and 27 yards to Monnig got the ball to the 8-yard line with 14 seconds left.

Wetzel attempted a 25-yard field goal that was just wide to the right.

“We had a chance to take the lead at the half and missed a chip shot (field goal),” said Lutz.

“We missed a couple of passes, we dropped an interception that would have been big, we dropped a touchdown pass, and we got sacked a couple of times. And when we were in a position where we had to throw they had the right calls on at certain times.”

Ironton came out the second half and drove from its 28 to the Ashland 32 only to fumble at the 8:42 mark of the third quarter.

With the help of a facemask penalty, Ashland got to the 5-yard line where Demartino scored again and it was 20-12 with 5:34 on the clock.

Ironton fumbled three plays into its next possession at the Fighting Tigers’ 35. The defense held, but the Ashland punt rolled dead at the 2-yard line and led to another punt. They got the ball back only one more time in the fourth quarter.

In the battle of fullbacks, Wetzel finished the game with 101 yards on just nine carries as Ironton had 227 on the ground. Ashland’s Josh Alber ran 22 times for 128 yards.

Hunter was the key weapon for the Tomcats as he ran nine times for 37 yards and completed 10 of 16 passes for 147 yards.

Ironton gets back in the fire next Friday by hosting unbeaten Logan.

Ironton 6 6 0 0 = 12

Ashland 8 6 6 6 = 26

First Quarter

Ash — Dominic Demartino 3 run (Sam Hunter run) 6:50

Irn — Tres Wilks 62 run (run failed) 6:10

Ash — Cody Withrow 10 pass from Sam Hunter (pass failed) 1:57

Second Quarter

Irn — Keith Wetzel 32 run (run failed) 9:00

Third Quarter

Ash — Dominic Demartino 5 run (pass failed) 5:34

Fourth Quarter

Ash — Drew Royalty 4 pass from Sam Hunter (pass failed) 8:15

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Irn Ash

First downs 16 16

Rushes-yards 34-227 40-197

Passing yards 80 147

Total yards 307 344

Cmp-Att-Int 5-10-0 1-16-0

Fumbles-lost 4-3 2-1

Penalties-yards 1-5 6-40

Punts-average 2-40.5 3-34.7

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Individual Leaders

RUSHING—Ironton: Keith Wetzel 9-101, Tres Wilks 9-92, J.P. Taylor 6-34, Erin Edens 1-4, Brian Warner 2-3, Ethan Preston 7-minus 7; Ashland: Josh Alber 22-128, Dominic Demartino 6-21, Trey Rogers 2-6, Ryan Whetzel 1-5, Sam Hunter 9-37.

PASSING—Ironton: Ethan Preston 5-10-0 81. Ashland: Sam Hunter 10-16-0 147.

RECEIVING—Ironton: Jon Monnig 2-53, Tres Wilks 1-21, Josh Pancake 1-13, J.P. Taylor 1-minus 7. Ashland: Drew Royalty 3-60, Ryan Whetsel 5-49, Trey Rogers 1-28, Kevin Barrett 1-10.

MISSED FIELD GOALS—Ironton: Keith Wetzel 26 (WR).