Ironton adjusts its way to 4th straight win
The Ironton offense was having some difficulty figuring out their blocking assignments against the multiple fronts of Rock Hill as the box was filled with nine players.
Ironton corrected those difficulties on offense and took control of the game.
As for the Ironton defense, it just made things difficult.
The Fighting Tigers made the necessary adjustments and turned a one-point game at halftime into a 28-13 Ohio Valley Conference win over the Redmen on Friday.
“We played pretty well for the most part. We were a little sloppy in the first half at times, but we had a little confusion up front. They threw some different fronts at us. We weren’t getting a hat on a hat,” said Ironton coach Mark Vass.
“But I thought the kids did real well making the adjustments at halftime and executing the adjustments. I thought that was the biggest thing.”
Ironton (4-4, 4-0) had 318 total yards for the game with 171 coming in the second half.
Rock Hill (4-3, 2-2) finished with 164 total yards and managed just 47 yards — 21 rushing and 26 passing — and two first downs in the second half.
The Fighting Tigers stellar two-way end Lucas Campbell went down with a knee injury two minutes into the game forcing yet another adjustment.
“Defensively, same thing. We were giving up the edge losing Lucas because he always does a good job on the edge,” said Vass.
“Ronnie (Artis) did a good job and stepped in and played hard. We did shift and make the adjustment off the edge and take that away.”
Ironton utilized four different backs in the running game and mixed in the passing of Jake Isaac who was 5-of-6 for 76 yards.
“We knew teams kept stacking the box, putting nine or 10 in the box, so we have to have an effective throwing game out of our T-formation. We worked on that all week in practice and it worked out tonight,” said Isaac.
“I want to thank all my linemen. They blocked great. That’s the reason I’m able to throw the ball.”
Bruising fullback Desmond Young ran 24 times for 91 yards and three touchdowns to lead Ironton. He had 69 yards and two scores in the second half.
Andrew Barker carried 18 times for 80 yards and a touchdown while D’Angelo Palladino — injured all season — was used sparingly and ran 10 times for 40 yards. Garrett Carrico had 28 yards on eight tries and caught two passes for 38 yards.
“We were trying to rotate them going in and keep them fresh. I thought the backs ran hard when they did get it and they blocked pretty well when they knew who to get,” said Vass.
“And I give Jake credit, too. I thought he had some big first down passes that first half. I thought he executed the passing game pretty well.”
Danny Long ran eight times for 43 yards and Chance Blankenship had 39 yards on 14 carries plus a 20-yard pass reception to lead the Redmen.
Ironton went 73 yards in 11 plays on its first possession to take a 7-0 lead. Young bulled in for the final yard and Tre Neal added the conversion.
Rock Hill was forced to punt on its first three possessions of the game and had just 5 net yards of offense.
But the Redmen used a 53-yard punt and roll by Trystan Matney to pin Ironton at the 3-yard line. The play proved to be a momentum shift for Rock Hill.
Ironton was called for a holding penalty in the end zone that resulted in a safety and it was 7-2.
Following the free kick, Long bolted 20 yards to the Ironton 40 and three plays later the Redmen were at the 26.
Matney got the call on a wide receiver reverse and scored to put the Redmen ahead 8-7. Mason Darby threw to Blankenship for the conversion and it was 10-7.
Ironton answered with a drive from its 39 to the Rock Hill 26 only to turn the ball over on downs.
But Rock Hill fumbled two plays later and Ironton had the ball back at the 34.
It took seven plays including a 12-yard pass to Chase Rowe to score with Barker darting into the end zone from 8 yards out and it was 14-10.
The Redmen got a 30-yard kickoff return from Brady Knipp to the 47 and a 14-yard-yard run by Long helped get the ball to the Ironton 13.
Matney then boomed a 30-yard field goal with three seconds left and Rock Hill cut the deficit to 14-13.
But then came the second half.
Ironton took the opening kickoff and went 61 yards in eight plays caped by Young’s 15-yard blast into the end zone with 8:20 on the clock for a 21-13 lead.
Offensive tackle Hayden Robinson said the adjustments by the coaching staff were the biggest difference in the second half.
“We just had to get a hat on a hat. We had one player blowing it up. When we started getting (Tyler Webb) on him, that fixed that. Overall we just played great as a whole. It was a great team effort,” said Robinson. “We really stepped it up the second half.”
After an exchange of fumbles, Ironton went on a 69-yard, 13-play march capped by Young’s 1-yard run with 7:11 to play.
Rock Hill used a 20-yard pass to Blankenship to get to the Ironton 42, but the drive stalled at the 39.
The Fighting Tigers then got to the Rock Hill where they took a knee on two straight plays to end the game.
Ironton has a showdown at Chesapeake next Friday. Ironton needs a win to maintain sole possession of first place and to keep its playoff hopes alive.
Chesapeake needs a win to force a first place tie and to keep its playoff chances alive.
Despite the loss, Rock Hill is still in line to make the playoffs. The Redmen host South Point next Friday and then end the season at Fairland.
Rock Hill 0 13 0 0 = 13
Ironton 7 7 7 7 = 27
Irn — Desmond Young 2 run (Tre Neal kick) 5:08
RH — Safety (holding penalty on Ironton in end zone) 11:38
RH — Trystan Matney 26 run (Chance Blankenship pass from Mason Darby) 9:46
Irn — Andrew Barker 8 run (Tre Neal kick) 1:43
RH — Trystan Matney 30 field goal 0:03
Irn — Desmond Young 15 run (Tre Neal kick) 8:20
Irn — Desmond Young 1 run (Tre Neal kick) 7:11
First downs 10 21
Rushes-yards 30-126 62-246
Passing yards 38 76
Total yards 164 322
Cmp-Att-Int 4-9-0 5-6-0
Fumbles-lost 2-2 1-1
Penalties-yards 7-56 4-23
Punts-average 4-42.3 0-00.0
RUSHING —Rock Hill: Danny Long 8-43, Chance Blankenship 14-39, Brady Knipp 5-20, Trystan Matney 1-26, Mason Darby 2-minus 2; Ironton: Desmond Young 24-91 3-TD, Andrew Barker 18-80 TD, Garrett Carrico 8-28, D’Angelo Palladino 10-40, Jake Isaac 2-7.
PASSING — Rock Hill: Mason Darby 4-9-0 38; Ironton: Jake Isaac 5-6-0 76.
RECEIVING — Rock Hill: Chance Blankenship 1-20, Heath Carpenter 1-7, Trystan Matney 1-6, Tim Adkins 1-5; Ironton: Garrett Carrico 2-38, Chase Rowe 2-24, Andrew Barker 1-14.