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Hartley holds off Ironton in regional finals

Ironton's Tommy Saul (50) and Robbie Webb (76) brings down Hartley running back Noah Key. (The Ironton Tribune / Kent Sanborn of Southern Ohio Sports Photos)

Division IV Region 15 Championship

LOGAN — The Columbus Bishop Hartley Eagles used two fumbles and a crucial penalty calls to escape the Ironton Fighting Tigers 26-20 Friday in the Division IV Region 15 championship game.

Ironton (10-3) racked up 232 yards rushing and Tommy Waginger was 7 of 9 passing for 81 to give the Fighting Tigers 313 total yards.

Tres Wilks ran seven times for 143 yards including an 84-yard jaunt late in the first half that help give Ironton a 14-10 halftime lead.

But Hartley had 439 yards including 337 on the ground as All-Ohio running back Noah Key carried 32 times or 193 yards and scored three touchdowns.

Key’s 2-yard run with 5:13 left capped a 74-yard, eight-play drive that came after Hartley recovered a fumbled at their own 26 to halt an Ironton scoring threat with the Fighting Tigers leading 14-13.

Hartley recovered a pass that was ruled a lateral at the Ironton 34 with 4:03 left and four plays later Key ran 23 yards for a touchdown to put the Hawks up 26-14 with 2:08 to play.

Ironton answered quickly as Waginger completed four straight passes including a 26-yard strike to Wilks and a 16-yard touchdown hook up with Tyler Kratzenberg who made a nice over-the-shoulder grab with 1:08 to go and got Ironton within 26-20.

But Ironton was unable to execute the on-side kickoff and Hartley ran out the clock.

Hartley (11-2) advances to the state semifinals for the first time since 1988 and will face two-time defending state champion Kettering Archbishop Alter, 35-32 winner over Kenton.