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Fighting Tigers battle before losing to Pirates

Ironton Fighting Tigers’ running back Reid Carrico (28) finds an opening in the Wheelersburg defense for some yardage during Friday’s season opener at Wheelersburg. Carrico ran for 106 yards but Ironton lost 28-6. (Photo Courtesy of Tim Gearhart)

Jim Walker
jim.walker@irontontribune.com

WHEELERSBURG — The final score read Wheelersburg 28, Ironton 6. But the score didn’t tell the whole story for the Fighting Tigers.
Ironton’s defense played strong most of the game but was victimized by a Pirates’ defensive score, two big pass plays and a gamble that backfired as they lost to the Division V defending state champions.
The loss also spoiled the head coaching debut of Ironton’s Trevon Pendleton.
Reid Carrico was the main offensive weapon for Ironton as the sophomore carried 21 times for 106 yards. Wheelersburg had 105 yards as a team.
Ironton quarterback Gage Salyers was 7-of-14 for 71 yards but two interceptions.
Wheelersburg quarterback Trent Salyers was 14-of-20 for 156 yards. Evan Horsley connected on his only pass for 31 yards to give the Pirates 187 yards passing and 292 total yards.
Ashton Clevinger ran 15 times for 61 yards — 44 on the final drive.
Wheelersburg used its defense to take a quick lead when Trey Carter got a 14-yard pick six on the second play of the game.
Jalen Miller’s conversion kick made it 7-0 just 49 seconds into the game.
Ironton got to the Pirates’ 37 only to have the drive bog down and turn the ball over on downs.
After a 6-yard run by Clevenger, Trent Salyers found Carter behind the Ironton secondary for a 52-yard touchdown pass and it was 14-0 with 5:53 left in the first quarter.
A 9-yard punt gave the ball back to the Pirates at the Ironton 45. Seven plays later, Salyers hit Evan Horsley with a 10-yard touchdown pass and it was 21-0 with 10:27 to go in the half.
Ironton got a spark when the defense force a punt and a 15-yard penalty on Wheelersburg put the ball at the Tigers’ 35.
The Fighting Tigers got the ball to the Pirates’ 38 with seven seconds left in the half. Gage Salyers threw a wobbly Hail Mary pass that was tipped by the Pirates’ secondary and into the hands of Brycen Salyers for a touchdown with no time on the clock and it was 21-6 at the break.
The two teams traded punts in the third quarter until Ironton faked a punt on fourth down and failed to convert at its own 40-yard line.
A 30-yard pass to Horsley got the ball to the 4-yard line and Trent Salyers hit Dustin Darnell with a 3-yard scoring pass with 18 seconds left in the third quarter and it was 28-6.
Ironton put together a 79-yard, 16-play drive that came up just one-yard shy when Gage Salyers pass to Cameron Deere went for 7 yards to the one.
Wheelersburg took the ball at the 1-yard line and ran nine plays to the Ironton 26 before taking a knee to end the game.
Ironton 0 6 0 0 = 6
Wheelersburg 14 7 7 0 = 28
First Quarter
Wh — Trey Carter 14 interception return (Jalen Miller kick) 11:11
Wh — Trey Carter 52 pass from Trent Salyers (Jalen Miller kick) 5:53
Second Quarter
Wh — Evan Horsley 10 pass from Trent Salyers (Jalen Miller kick) 10:27
Irn — Brycen Thomas 38 pass from Gage Salyers (kick failed) 0:00
Third Quarter
Wh — Dustin Darnell 3 pass from Trent Salyers (Jalen Miller kick) 0:18
——
Irn Wh
First downs 11 14
Rushes-yards 37-133 30-105
Passing yards 71 187
Total yards 204 292
Cmp-Att-Int 7-14-2 12-16-0
Fumbles-lost 1-0 3-1
Penalties-yards 10-77 7-60
Punts-average 4-29.5 2-32.0
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Individual Leaders
RUSHING —Ironton: Reid Carrico 21-106, Gage Salyers 9-12, Seth Fosson 3-7, Cameron Deer 2-5, Brycen Thomas 1-3, Ethan Duncan 1-0; Wheelersburg: Ashton Clevinger 15-61, Trent Salyers 6-3, Makya Matthews 2-30, Evan Horsley 4-7, Tanner Holden 1-3, Tanner Wilson 2-1.
PASSING — Ironton: Gage Salyers 7-14-2 71; Wheelersburg: Trent Salyers 11-15-0 156, Evan Horsley 1-1-0 31.
RECEIVING — Ironton: Jordan Grizzle 1-16, Ayden Barnes 1-11, Brycen Thomas 1-38, Cameron Deer 1-7, Ethan Duncan 2-1, Reid Carrico 1-minus 2; Wheelersburg: Tanner Holden 5-69, Trey Carter 2-82, Evan Horsley 2-26, Dustin Darnell 2-11, Makya Matthews 2-16, Hunter Ruby 1-6.