Fighting Tigers fall in Division 5 playoffs
WHEELERSBURG — A few key plays early set the tone and turned the momentum against Ironton.
A turnover, a blown coverage and a fluke pass gave the Wheelersburg Pirates the early advantage as they went on to beat the Fighting Tigers 38-7 on Friday in the Division V Region 17 quarterfinals.
Wheelersburg had 130 yards rushing but only 62 of those yards were by the first team. However, quarterback Kyle Davis was 10-of-15 passing for 224 yards and two touchdowns as the Pirates got 354 total yards.
“I thought our front seven stopped the run for the most part. We just let them make too many big plays and first downs and just chunks throwing the ball,” said Ironton coach Mark Vass.
“I thought we had a lot of pressure on the quarterback for a while and he did a good job scrambling or just moving around in the pocket and throwing it knowing he’s going to get hit. He completed a lot of tough passes overall.”
Ironton (6-5) drove to the Wheelersburg 43 to start the game but turned the ball over on downs.
The Pirates went to the air on first down and Davis appeared to be going down for a huge loss but used a “fling and a prayer” to Tanner Holden who caught the jump ball for 18 yards to the Ironton 40.
Five plays later, Davis was bottled up at the line of scrimmage but began dancing side-to-side when he got loose and ran 10 yards for a touchdown and 7-0 lead at the 7:10 mark.
Ironton tried to answer by marching into Wheelersburg territory only to fumble the ball away.
The Pirates managed to get to the 9-yard line but a loss of 11 yards on a sack by Jaxson Pleasant forced Daylor Lewis to kick a 37-yard field goal.
The Pirates (11-0) first unit struggled all night to run the ball, thus forcing Davis to take to the air and he came through by completing 10-of-15 passes for 224 yards and two touchdowns with an interception.
“They stopped us that first drive and came down and scored and got some momentum. I just thought overall they made some plays and we didn’t,” said Vass.
“And give them credit. They outplayed us tonight. They’re a good ball club. I think they’ll make a run at it and make some noise in the playoffs.”
Davis hit Tanner Bivens with scoring passes of 50 yard and 22 yards — the latter with just 1:27 left in the half — as the Pirates built a 24-0 halftime lead.
Both teams had trouble moving the ball in the third quarter until the Pirates got the ball at their own 47 following a punt and used two big runs to score.
Xander Carmichael came off the bench to gain 18 yards and Dominic Reyes ran 33 yards for a touchdown with 1:56 left in the quarter for a 31-0 lead.
Ironton got on the scoreboard when Jake Isaac hit Travis Carey on a 33-yard touchdown pass with 6:27 left.
But Reyes returned the kickoff 65 yards to the 8-yard line and then he scored on the next play with 6:09 left to set the final score.
Ironton finished with 108 yards rushing and 71 passing for 179 total yards.
Garrett Carrico ran eight times for 37yards and Isaac was 3-of-9 for 46 yards and a touchdown. His lone interception came on a Hail Mary at the end of the first half.
Ironton dressed just 16 upperclassmen due to injuries.
Senior Lucas Campbell played defensive end despite having a torn ACL. Senior Desmond Young left the game early in the fourth quarter and spent the rest of the game and post-game vomiting.
Missing due to injuries were starters Levi Langdon, D’Angelo Palladino and Tanner Wilson.
Vass praised his team’s effort despite playing short-handed throughout the season.
“I’m just proud of them. To start off the season with tough teams like that this team could have folded easily. There were a lot of people believing in them. I’m just proud of their effort and keeping it together. It was a successful season and we’re just proud of them and what they accomplished,” said Vass.
Ironton 0 0 0 7 = 7
Wheelersburg 10 14 7 7 = 38
Wh — Kyle Davis 10 run (Daylor Lewis kick) 7:10
Wh — Daylor Lewis 37 field goal 1:07
Wh — Tanner Bivens 50 pass from Kyle Davis (Daylor Lewis kick) 8:14
Wh — Tanner Bivens 22 pass from Kyle Davis (Daylor Lewis kick) 1:27
Wh — Dominic Reyes 33 run (Daylor Lewis kick) 1:56
Irn — Travis Carey 33 pass from Jake Isaac (Tre Neal kick) 6:27
Wh — Dominic Reyes 8 run (Daylor Lewis kick) 6:09
First downs 12 15
Rushes-yards 37-108 30-130
Passing yards 71 224
Total yards 179 354
Cmp-Att-Int 4-12-1 10-15-1
Fumbles-lost 2-1 0-0
Penalties-yards 2-13 3-30
Punts-average 5-37.8 2-33.0
RUSHING —Ironton: Garrett Carrico 8-37, Andrew Barker 8-25, Desmond Young 7-20, Jake Isaac 4-minus 9, Chase Rowe 1-5, Travis Gayhart 1-1, Jaxson Pleasant 5-22, Derek McCallister 3-7; Wheelersburg: Jordan Howard 10-31, Kyle Davis 13-19 TD, Keaton Newsome 2-12, Xander Carmichael 1-18, Dominic Reyes 4-50 2-TD.
PASSING — Ironton: Jake Isaac 3-9-1 46 TD, Travis Carey 1-2-0 25, Garrett Carrico 0-1-0; Wheelersburg: Kyle Davis 10-15-1 224 2-TD.
RECEIVING — Ironton: Travis Carey 2-46 TD, Garrett Carrico 1-25, Andrew Barker 1-0; Wheelersburg: Jake Darnell 4-61, Tanner Bivens 2-72 2-TD, Jordan Howard 2-26, Tanner Holden 1-18, Taylor Doerr 1-17.