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Fighting Tigers’ defense trumps Aces

By JIM WALKER

Tribune Sports Editor

 

AMANDA — Games are won on the offensive and defensive lines. The team who wins the battle in the trenches usually wins the game.

Ironton’s offensive and defensive lines won the battle and as a result the Fighting Tigers won the game as they beat the Amanda-Clearcreek Aces 12-9 Saturday in the Region 15 Division IV playoffs.

Ironton (7-4) limited the Aces to 151 total yards — 103 rushing — despite losing three fumbles. The Fighting Tigers’ offense racked up 242 total yards with 231 coming on the ground.

“Our defensive line dominated their offensive line,” said Ironton coach Bob Lutz. “They did pretty much what we thought they would do. Turnovers and field position hurt us, but we were able to make the plays when we had to.”

Ironton limited the Aces to just three field goals, two coming following fumble recoveries.

“We played strong. It was a team effort,” said Ironton linebacker Cody Roberts. “We played how we’re capable of playing. Tonight we stepped up. As long as we score touchdowns and they score field goals, they can’t win.”

Ironton trailed 9-6 after a 21-yard field goal by Grant Brown with 10:48 to play. The score was set up by a fumble recovery at the Fighting Tigers’ 34.

But Ironton answered with a 52-yard, 11-play drive triggered by Patrick Lewis’ 39-yard kickoff return.

A 19-yard run by Tanner Schweickart got the ball to the Aces’ 28 and Trevor White scored on a 1-yard run with 5:32 to go. The conversion pass failed but Ironton led 12-9.

Clearcreek (8-3) had two more possessions in the game, but each time Ironton held on fourth down plays.

“We played Ironton defense,” said Ironton defensive lineman Tommy Saul.

Ironton took the ball on the opening drive of the game and went 85 yards in seven plays. Dion Brown’s 62-yard run keyed the drive and Tyler Kratzenberg scored from one yard out with 8:41 on the clock for a 6-0 lead.

Brown finished with 102 yards on 10 carries.

Clearcreek answered by going 49 yards in nine plays before the drive stalled at the Ironton 4. Brown kicked a 21-yard field goal and it was 6-3 at the 5:01 mark.

The defenses took over the rest of the half. Ironton got an interception by Kratzenberg for a turnover but the Aces got the big turnover when they recovered an Ironton fumble at the 21-yard line with 2:32 left in the half.

Ironton’s defense held and forced a fourth down at the 14-yard line. Brown came on and kicked a 31-yard field goal to tie the game with 1:01 left in the half.

Ironton lost defensive lineman Nick Culbertson in the first half with a dislocated kneecap.

Ironton will now play Johnstown Monroe at a site to be determined, possibly at Ohio University.