Ironton turns back Russell
By JIM WALKER
Tribune Sports Editor
It seemed like the Ironton Fighting Tigers kept getting in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Until it really mattered, that is.
Despite getting out of position and missing assignments on both sides of the ball, Ironton came up with the big plays when they needed as the Fighting Tigers held off the Russell Red Devils 20-14 Friday night at Tanks Memorial Stadium.
“It was a combination of things. We got in the wrong places. This was the first time our guys have played four quarters,” said Ironton coach Bob Lutz.
“Our ends got out of position an awful lot and they’ve got a good quarterback who kept making big plays.”
Ironton (2-0) had the ball once in each of the first three quarters and scored each time in building a 20-0 lead.
Russell scored on the first play of the fourth quarter to get within 20-7. Ironton fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Russell recovered at the Fighting Tigers’ 31. Six plays later Logan Dehoff scored on a 1-yard run and it was 20-14.
“When you come in and play Ironton, it’s easy to fold when you’re down 20. We didn’t fold,” said Russell coach Ivan McGlone.
Ironton drove to the Russell 39 but was stopped on a fourth-and-one with 4:24 to play.
“When we called the play I thought it would be a touchdown,” said Lutz. “We didn’t block the end and (Dehoff) made the play. Russell’s much improved and their quarterback did a nice job.”
The Red Devils picked up a first down, but on fourth and 3 at the Ironton 41, Laron Beach stopped Zach Thompson about a yard short of the first down with 1:18 left and Ironton ran out the clock.
“We made the play at the end when we needed it,” said Lutz. “I’m not sure they could have gone the distance with 1:18 left unless they broke a long one. They made some big plays. The big play for them was the fumble on the kickoff.”
The Fighting Tigers had 269 total yards including 217 on the ground. Quarterback Tyler Kratzenberg ran 10 times for 57 yards and was 2 of 2 passing for 52 yards including a 35-yard touchdown strike to Michael Lawless in the third quarter.
“I just broke and it was open,” said Lawless. “As soon as I took off I started cramping. I thought I was going to fall down.”
Tyler Hager ran for 63 yards and a score while Trevor White had 74 yards and a touchdown as Ironton took a 14-0 first half lead.
Russell (1-1) had 212 total yards as quarterback Googie Hayes ran 17 times for 84 yards and was 3 of 5 passing for 43 yards. Dehoff had 60 yards on 11 carries.
The Red Devils went three-and-out to start the game and had the game’s only punt.
Ironton then went 80 yards in 10 plays on its only possession of the quarter. White capped the drive with a 3-yard run and it was 6-0.
Russell got to the Ironton 11, but the Fighting Tigers’ defense came up with three straight tackles for losses back to the 21 to take over on downs.
Tommy Saul had a stop for minus 8, Dakota Taylor and Nick Culbertson combined for a 2-yard loss, and Aaron Stephens stop Hayes for a 3-yard loss on fourth down.
Ironton then went on a 76-yard, 14-play drive that culminated with Hager’s 5-yard run. White ran for the conversion and it was 14-0 with 4:08 left in the half.
Lawless’ TD catch ended a 70-yard, 8-play drive to begin the second half and then Russell held the ball the rest of the quarter.
Hayes ran 12 yards for a touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter to end the 80-yard, 16-play march. Patrick Soucy kicked the conversion.
Ironton fumbled the kickoff and Russell recovered at the 31. Six plays later Dehoff ran 1-yard on third down and it was 20-14 with 8:44 to go.
That set the stage for each team to come up with big defensive stops to settle the outcome.