Ironton stumbles in season opener

Published 1:46 am Monday, August 29, 2016

Jim Walker


WHEELERSBURG — Sometimes you lay an egg. Friday night the Ironton Fighting Tigers must have felt like they filled the henhouse.

Ironton began the game at their own 38. But they were called for a 19-yard holding penalty on the first play, another holding penalty on the second play and had a pair of illegal procedure calls.

The ball ended up on the 9-yard line and things only got worse.

Ironton never got untracked and fell 49-6 to the Wheelersburg Pirates in the season opener.

“That first series set the tone. We were back on our heels the rest of the night and they got the momentum and took off,” said Ironton coach Mark Vass.

“We didn’t play well. We need to get better and we need to get better fast. But Wheelersburg executed well. They made the plays and when we did have pressure on their quarterbacks they would find a way to get away and turn it into a big gain. You have to give them credit. They did a good job.”

Wheelersburg scored on all six possessions in the first half — all through the air.

After the disastrous first series of the game, the Pirates had good field position at their own 47.

Ironton forced the Pirates into a third and 10 at the 26, but quarterback Mack Dyer dropped a perfect pass into the hands of Tanner Bivens for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead at the 8:52 mark.

Following a three-and-out, the Pirates scored four plays later on a 44-yard pass form quarterback Cole Lowery to Taylor Doerr.

Another Ironton punt gave the ball to the Pirates at third own 44. Six plays later, Dyer threw a quick screen to the right and Tanner Holden took a few steps, cut back to his left across the field and ran 45 yards for a touchdown to make it 21-0 with 1:53 on the clock.

Wheelersburg was backed up by Ryan Bryant’s 47-yard punt to the 11-yard line, but they went the length of the field in eight plays capped by a 7-yard slant pass for Holden for a 28-0 lead.

The Pirates needed only three plays to score on their next possession as Dyleer and Doerr hooked up on a 42-yard scoring strike.

The final touchdown was a 3-yard toss from Dyer to Bivens with 58 seconds left in the half. The key play was a desperation push pass by Dyer to Xavier Carmichael just as he was about to be sacked. Carmichael caught the ball near the line of scrimmage, turned and ran to the 6-yard line.

The Pirates made it 49-0 in the third quarter when Dyer scrambled out of the pocket and ran 19 yards for a touchdown.

Ironton avoided the shutout on the ensuing possession when Ethan Duncan bolted 71 yards to the 2-yard line and Tanner Wilson finished off the drive on the next play with 7:02 left in the third quarter.

The Fighting Tigers could only muster 133 yards — all on the ground. Duncan had 73 yards on two carries and Andrew Scott 44 yards on five attempts.

Wheelersburg had 506 total yards with 259 coming through the air. Dyer was10-of-13 passing for 204 yards and Lowery completed his only pass for 44 yards.

Dyer and Lowery were also responsible for the bulk of the rushing yards as Lowery ran for 86 yards and Dyer 45.