FLATWOODS, Ky. — Would you guys please play a little harder and a little better in the second half? It would be greatly appreciated.
Okay, maybe that’s not exactly how Ironton coach Bob Lutz said it, but that was his message to his players at halftime.
Lutz’s words had an effect on the players as Ironton shutout the Russell offense in the second half and pulled away to a 29-13 win over the Red Devils Friday night.
“We were too passive. We thought we had a cakewalk coming in and that’s the way we played,” said Lutz. “We tried to get their attention at halftime. We just played with more intensity.”
Ironton’s intensity was exemplified in the play of tight end and defensive back Michael Lawless as well as fullback and linebacker Brian Warner.
Lawless had 10 tackles and a hard hit that caused an interception. Warner had 17 tackles on the night and got the interception when Lawless collided with big Russell tight end Justin Davison (6-5, 240) who did not play last week in the Red Devils loss to Greenup County.
“We played harder (in the second half),” said Lawless. “We were lax in the first half. We came out swinging in the second half like we should have from the start. We have to get better.”
Ironton (2-0) gained 14 yards on the first play of the game as Tres Wilks picked up some of his 84 yards rushing on the night. But four plays later the Fighting Tigers fumbled the ball on a fourth down play and Russell took over at the Ironton 46.
The Red Devils (1-2) ran 11 plays and reached the 7-yard line. But the drive stalled and Tanner Locey kicked a 24-yard field goal to put Russell up 3-0.
Ironton answered with an eight-play, 66-yard drive capped by Tyler Hager’s 6-yard scoring run. Wilks ran for the conversion and it was 8-3.
A short 9-yard kickoff gave Russell the ball at the Ironton 49. Six plays later they were sitting at the Ironton 3, but the Ironton defense tackled Patrick Cooper for a 3-yard loss that led to a 23-yard field goal by Locey and it was 8-6 with 9:37 left in the half.
The Fighting Tigers came right back with a eight-play, 51-yard drive that ended on a 21-yard pass from Tommy Waginger to Lawless who shook one tackle and outran the other safety into the end zone.
Trevor White’s conversion kick made it 15-6 with 5:47 left in the half.
Russell then went on a 65-yard, 10-play drive as Logan Dehoff ran 9 yards for the score with 1:35 on the clock.
After Russell got a couple of first downs to start the second half, Nick Culbertson batted down a Cooper pass on a third down play and Ironton got the ball back after the punt at its own 25.
A 26-yard pass from Waginger to Lawless keyed the drive and Warner got the touchdown as he bolted 33 yards up the middle for a 22-13 lead.
Dion Brown intercepted a fourth down pass and returned it 33 yards to the Russell 42. Warner ran 4 yards on first down and Hager squirted loose on the first play of the fourth quarter for a 38-yard scoring run and a 29-13 lead.
Russell was able to cross midfield on its next two possessions, but the defense stopped the Red Devils on fourth and 7 at the Ironton 38 and Warner picked off a pass at the 46 on a first down play when Lawless had his big hit.
“I told someone the other day that it might be six or seven games before we know if we’re any good,” said Lutz. “We’re still a big work in progress.”
Ironton had 293 total yards with 233 coming on the ground. Hager added 57 yards and Warner 42.
Russell got 180 yards rushing on 50 attempts. They finished with 256 total yards.
“I can’t fault our kids. We moved the ball, we just didn’t finish. We had the ball inside the 30 five times last week and had two field goals. Our kids hung in there,” said Russell coach Ivan McGlone.
“Ironton’s a physical team. They took advantage of their size and power.”
Ironton 8 7 7 7 = 29
Russell 6 7 0 0 = 13
Ru — Tanner Locey 24 field goal 4:27
Irn — Tyler Hager 6 run (Tres Wilks run) 0:46
Ru — Tanner Locey 23 field goal 9:37
Irn — Michael Lawless 21 pass from Tommy Waginger (Trevor White kick) 5:47
Ru — Logan Dehoff 9 run (Tanner Locey kick) 1:35
Irn — Brian Warner 33 run (Trevor White kick) 4:59
Irn — Tyler Hager 38 run (Trevor White kick) 11:51
First downs 14 15
Rushes-yards 31-233 50-180
Passing yards 60 76
Total yards 293 256
Cmp-Att-Int 3-3-0 8-15-2
Fumbles-lost 3-1 0-0
Punts-average 1-30 1-35.0
Penalties-yards 1-12 1-5
RUSHING-Ironton: Tres Wilks 11-84, Tyler Hager 8-57, Brian Warner 5-42, Tommy Waginger 4-19, Tyler Kratzenberg 1-17, Trevor White 1-13, Laron Beach 1-1; Russell: Zach Thompson 20-89, Patrick Cooper 13-29, Paul Spradlin 8-42, Troy Huffine 6-12, Logan Dehoff 2-8, Joel Korzep 1-0.
PASSING-Ironton: Tommy Waginger 3-3-0 60; Russell: Patrick Cooper 8-15-2 76.
RECEIVING-Ironton: Michael Lawless 2-37, Tres Wilks 1-13; Russell: Justin Davidson 3-31, Troy Huffine 3-20, Josh Hurn 1-20, Logan Dehoff 1-5.
MISSED FIELD GOALS: None.