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Fighting Tigers’ use defense to slow down Dragons’ offense

Ironton Fighting Tigers’ defensive lineman Hunter Humphreys (68) grabs Fairland Dragons’ quarterback Joel Lambiotte (8) during Saturday’s OVC game. Ironton won 41-23. (Kent Sanborn of Southern Ohio Sports Photos)

Jim Walker
jim.walker@irontontribune.com

PROCTORVILLE— The Ironton defense was expected to be tested by the Fairland Dragons’ passing game.
It was and it passed.
The Fighting Tigers held Fairland quarterback Joel Lambiotte in check most of the game and the offense went into full gear as Ironton posted a 41-23 win on Saturday in the Ohio Valley Conference opener for both teams.
Lambiotte was 16-of-28 for 149 yards but 65 of those yards came on the final drive against Ironton backups including a 35-yard diving catch by Zeke Ramey. Most of the completions were swing passes and only three completions were for double digits prior to the final drive.
Ironton (2-1, 1-0) got its offense going against the young Fairland defense with 317 yards rushing and another 39 passing.
Reid Carrico ran 21 times for 144 yards and a touchdown to lead the ground game. Quarterback Gage Salyers had 77 yards on 11 carries and scored four touchdowns, Seth Fosson carried nine times for 67 yards and a score.
The Dragons’ running game was limited to 111 yards with Lambiotte picking up 82 yards on14 carries including a 35-yard scramble.
The defense set the tone on the third play of the game when a Fairland receiver slipped and fell enabling Salyers to intercept a pass at the Dragons’ 44-yard line.
Eight plays later, Salyers ran 5 yards for his first touchdown and Izack Unger’s conversion kick made it 7-0 with 6:36 left in the first quarter.
Fairland (2-1, 0-1) got a kickoff return by Michael Stitt to near midfield and a penalty on Ironton put the ball at the 36.
Nine plays later, Alec Bruce kicked a 24-yard field goal to make it 7-3.
Ironton answered with an 83-yard, 11-play drive capped by Salyers’ 1-yard run and it was 13-3.
The defense forced a three-and-out but for the second week in a row, Carrico blocked the punt and Jordan Grizzle returned the kick to the 3-yard line.
Carrico scored on the next play and Unger’s conversion kick put the lead at 20-3 with 8:46 left in the half.
The Dragons did manage a drive to the Ironton 9-yard line before stalling and missing a 25-yard field goal attempt with 1:05 left in the half.
After an exchange of punts to begin the second half, Ironton put together another 83-yard drive that including an 18-pass from Salyers to Carrico and set up a 10-yard scoring run by Salyers.
Unger’s kick put the lead at 27-3 with 3:02 left in the quarter.
Fairland went on a scoring drive sparked by Labiotte who threw 15 yards to Robbie McFarland and then ran 23 and 15 yards to set up Stitt’s 12-yard touchdown scamper. Bruce added the conversion and Ironton led 27-10 with 2:04 on the clock
Sparked by an 18-yard pass to Grizzle and an 18-yarad run by Salyers, Ironton went 67 yards in seven plays with Salyers running the final 6 yards for the touchdown. Unger’s kick made it 34-10 with 11:14 to play.
Fairland cut the deficit to 34-17 on a 9-yard pass from Lambiotte to Gavin Hunt and Bruce’s conversion kick with 3:14 left.
But Ironton countered a 52-yard, 7-play drive — all on the ground — that culminated on Seth Fosson’s 5-yard run with one minute left. Unger kicked his fifth conversion and it was 41-17. Fairland wouldn’t quit as Lambiotte quickly took his team down the field 77 yards in six plays. Lambiotte accounted for all the yardage including a 4-yard touchdown run as time ran out.
This Friday, Ironton hosts Ashland — ranked No.1 in Class 4A in Kentucky — while Fairland visits unbeaten Waverly.
Ironton 7 13 7 14 = 41
Fairland 3 0 7 0 = 23
First Quarter
Irn — Gage Salyers 5 run (Izack Unger kick) 6:36
Fa — Alec Bruce 24 field goal 2:53
Second Quarter
Irn — Gage Salyers 1 run (kick failed) 9:56
Ironton — Reid Carrico 3 run (Izack Unger kick) 8:46
Third Quarter
Irn — Gage Salyers 10 run (Izack Unger kick) 3:02
Fa — Michael Stitt 12 run (Alec Bruce kick) 2:04
Fourth Quarter
Irn — Gage Salyers 7 run (Izack Unger kick) 11:14
Fa — Gavin Hunt 9 pass from Joel Lambiotte (Alec Bruce kick) 3:14
Irn — Seth Fosson 5 run (Izack Unger kick) 0:58
Fa — Joel Lambiotte 4 run (no attempt) 0:00
Irn Fa
First downs 20 17
Rushes-yards 46-317 24-115
Passing yards 39 149
Total yards 356 264
Cmp-Att-Int 3-12-0 16-28-1
Fumbles-lost 0-0 1-0
Penalties-yards 16-149 8-84
Punts-average 3-23.7 3-24.0
——
Individual Leaders
RUSHING —Ironton: Reid Carrico 21-144, Seth Fosson 9-67, Cameron Deere 3-15, Gage Salyers 11-77, Brycen Thomas 1-14, Ethan Duncan 1-0; Fairland: Michael Stitt 8-17, J.D. Brumfield 2-16, Joel Lambiotte 14-82.
PASSING — Ironton: Gage Salyers 3-12-0 39; Fairland: Joel Lambiotte 16-28-1 149.
RECEIVING — Ironton: Reid Carrico 1-18, Jordan Grizzle 1-18, Justin McSorley 1-3; Fairland: Gavin Hunt 3-7, Michael Stitt 6-41, J.D. Brumfield 1-4, Brennan West 2-42, Zeke Ramey 2-22, Robbie McFarland 1-15.