Luck frowns on Ironton in 15-7 heartbreaking playoff loss
JOHNSTOWN — Frank Sinatra sang “Luck Be A Lady.”
Luck was anything but a lady to the Ironton Fighting Tigers on Saturday night.
An underdog heading into the Division V Region 19 quarterfinal game against the Johnstown-Monroe Johnnies and trailing by eight points, Ironton had the ball third-and-goal at the 1-yard line but fumbled the snap and lost the ball.
Ironton’s defense held and got the ball back at the J-M 38, but there was just 1:21 to play and Fighting Tigers had only one timeout left.
Ironton got to the 26 but a sack and two illegal procedures sabotaged the drive that ended with seven seconds to play.
The absence of luck meant Ironton suffered a heartbreaking 15-7 loss and finished the season 6-5.
The Fighting Tigers’ showed flashes of offense but was shut down at crucial times by the J-M defense.
However, Johnstown-Monroe (10-1) had its own offensive struggles against the Ironton defense. After scoring with just under three minutes left in the first half, the Johnnies did not score score the rest of the game never crossed midfield in the second half and had only one first down.
In fact, it took two long runs and a big kickoff return to put J-M in scoring position.
Ironton had 166 yards on the ground and 68 through the air for 234 total yards.
Reid Carrico ran 20 times for 120 yards while quarterback Gage Salyers was 8-of-21 for 68 yards as he was harassed the entire game by the J-M pass rush.
The Fighting Tigers’ defense held the Johnnies to 225 total yards including a mere 10 yards through the air.
Luke Myers ran nine times for 123 yards — he had 113 on two carries — and Bryce Barasch finished with 72 yards on 19 carries.
Barasch came into the game with 1,667 yards rushing and averaging 7.2 yards a carry. Quarterback Caden Calhoun had 1,155 yards on the season but managed just 20 yards on 11 carries.
Ironton took the opening kickoff and moved from its own 35 to the Johnnies’ 39. A Salyers’ pass was complete for 5 yards but a fumble on the play was recovered by Johnstown at the 34.
After a 5-yard penalty, Myers burst up the middle for 60 yards to the Ironton 11.
The Johnnies scored but a holding penalty pushed the ball back to the 18-yard line. Ironton’s defense stiffened and forced Alex Jenney to kick a 26-yard field goal and a 3-0 lead with 6:04 on the clock.
It didn’t take long for Ironton to answer. A 10-yard pass from Salyers to Brycen Thomas and a 5-yard run by Seth Fosson got the ball to the 40 when Carrico bolted 60 yards for the touchdown.
Izack Unger kicked the extra point and Ironton led 7-3 with 4:59 on the first quarter clock.
Calhoun’s kickoff return to the Ironton 33 set up a 25-yard run by Barasch and then he went the final 3 yards for the touchdown and J-M led 9-7 at the 3:25 mark.
Following an Ironton punt, J-M took over at its own 25 and Myers ripped off another big run as he galloped 53 yards to the Ironton 22.
Six plays later, Barasch ran 8 yards for a touchdown and the Johnnies led 15-7 with 9:52 left in the half after the conversion run failed.
In the second half, J-M went three-and-out on its first two possessions, the fumbled the ball away on the fourth play of the next series.
Ironton had the ball at the Johnnies’ 47 but couldn’t capitalize.
Johnstown had a chance on its next series but a long pass to a wide-open receiver well behind the Ironton secondary was dropped as J-M went three-and-out yet again.
Thomas returned a punt 12 yards to the J-M 38-yard line and Ironton moved to the 1-yard line in 10 plays. But Ironton fumbled the exchange and Johnstown recovered at the one.
Again, the Johnnies went three-and-out and punt the ball to their own 37.
After a 9-yard pass from Salyers to Ayden Barnes and a 1-yard run by Carrico for a first down, Salyers was sacked and Ironotn was hit with two penalties.
Salyers was forced to spike the ball on one play and two more passes were incomplete as he was again pressured by the J-M defense.
Ironton 7 0 0 0 = 7
Johnstown 9 6 0 0 = 15
JM — Alex Jenney 26 field goal 6:04
Irn — Reid Carrico 60 run (Izack Unger kick) 4:59
JM — Bryce Barasch 3 run (kick failed) 3:25
JM — Bryce Barasch 8 run (run failed) 9:52
First downs 16 9
Rushes-yards 46-166 39-215
Passing yards 68 10
Total yards 234 225
Cmp-Att-Int 8-21-0 2-5-0
Fumbles-lost 2-2 2-1
Penalties-yards 5-25 4-31
Punts-average 7-31.7 5-41.4
RUSHING — Ironton: Reid Carrico 20-120, Seth Fosson 7-26, Brycen Thomas 1-10, Gage Salyers 18-10; Johnstown-Monroe: Bryce Barasch 19-72, Luke Myers 9-123, Caden Calhoun 11-20.
PASSING — Ironton: Gage Salyers 8-21-0 68; Johnstown-Monroe: Caden Calhoun 2-5-0 10.
RECEIVING — Ironton: Brycen Thomas 3-44, Ayden Barnes 2-17, Ethan Duncan 2-4, Reid Carrico 1-3; Johnstown-Monroe: Nate Curran 2-10.