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Fighting Tigers wake up quickly to beat Fairland

Ironton defensive back Gage Salyers (7) comes up with a big interception in the first quarter that led to the Fighting Tigers’ first touchdown and ignited a 49-7 Ohio Valley Conference win over the Fairland Dragons on Friday. (Kent Sanborn/Southern Ohio Sports Photos)

Jim Walker
jim.walker@irontontribune.com

Scoring on the first play of the game can send a message. It can also trigger quite a response.
The Fairland Dragons got a touchdown the first play of the game in a battle of Ohio Valley Conference unbeaten on Friday at Tanks Memorial Stadium.
But after a sluggish two possessions, the Ironton Fighting Tigers came to life and scored seven unanswered touchdowns in a 49-7 league win.
Max Ward hit Gavin Hunt on an 83-yard catch and run play just 18 seconds into the game as Fairland went up 7-0.
“They gave us a new set that we hadn’t really saw much of and they just dialed up a good play and they just caught us being over aggressive,” said Ironton coach Trevon Pendleton.
“It’s no secret our defense likes to be aggressive. They caught us being a little too aggressive and not playing as disciplined as we want to. It kinds of served as a little wake up call.”
Ironton (3-0, 1-0) then got a 38-yard interception return by Gage Salyers to the Fairland 2-yard line where Reid Carrico scored on the next play and it was tied at 7-7 with 6:03 left in the first quarter.
After forcing a punt, the Fighting Tigers struck on first down as Salyers and Carrico clicked on a 78-yard scoring pass and Avery Book’s conversion kick put Ironton up 14-7 with 1:30 on the clock.
Ironically, the first three touchdowns in the game were all one-play drives.
Ironton changed that as it went 53 yards in six plays as Seth Fosson had a key 13-yard run and then went 2 yards to cap the drive with 6:19 left in the half and it was 21-7.
The Fighting Tigers forced another punt and Carrico scooted 34 yards to the Fairland 38. Four plays later, Salyers found Colin Freeman behind the secondary for a 26-yard scoring pass and it was 28-7.
Nate Cochran recovered a Fairland fumble at the 28-yard line and five plays later Salyers finish off the first half scoring as he raced 16 yards untouched around left end and it was 35-7.
“I’ve loved the way we’ve handled adversity this year, whether it be early in the game or late in the game. Everybody’s kinda rallied behind each other and pushed each other. It’s been nothing but positivity on the sidelines,” said Pendleton.
Ironton took the second half kickoff and went 61 yards in eight plays with Junior Jones scoring on a 1-yard plunge. Izsac Unger kicked the first of two extra points and it was 42-7 with 8:09 to left in the quarter.
The game’s final score came when freshman Trevor Carter scored his first career touchdown when he galloped 55 yards with 1:59 to play.
Salyers sparked the win as he ran four times for 46 yards, hit 6-of-12 passes for 137 yards and had a key interception.
Carrico had a solid all-around game with 61 yards on just eight carries and caught three passes for 81 yards as he scored twice.
Fairland had just a net 28 yards rushing but Ward was 5-of-10 passing for 137 yards.
Fairland 7 0 0 0 = 7
Ironton 14 21 7 7 = 49
First Quarter
Fa — Gavin Hunt 83 pass from Max Ward (Emma Marshall kick) 11:42
Irn — Reid Carrico 2 run (Averly Book kick) 6:03
Irn — Reid Carrico 78 pass from Gage Salyers (Avery Book kick) 1:30
Second Quarter
Irn — Seth Fosson 2 run (Avery Book kick) 6:19
Irn — Colin Freeman 26 pass from Gage Salyers (Avery Book kick) 3:29
Irn — Gage Salyers 16 run (Avery Book kick) 0:50
Third Quarter
Irn — Junior Jones 1 run (Izsac kick) 8:09
Fourth Quarter
Irn — Trevor Carter 55 run (Izsak kick) 1:59
——
Fa Irn
First downs 9 14
Rushes-yards 24-28 25-172
Passing yards 150 137
Total yards 178 309
Cmp-Att-Int 7-14-1 6-14-0
Fumbles-lost 5-1 1-1
Penalties-yards 5-25 3-25
Punts-average 4-30.5 2-46.5
——
Individual Leaders
RUSHING — Fairland: Michael Stitt 11-57, J.D. Brumfield 3-3, Max Ward 2-minus 4, Zander Schmidt 2-minus 22, Brennan West 1-minus 4, Jacob Craft 2-2, Tevin Taylor 2-2, team 1-minus 6; Ironton: Reid Carrico 8-61, Seth Fosson 4-22, Gage Salyers 4-46, Cameron Deere 3-27, Kameron Browning 2-15, Beau Brownstead 2-minus 2, Junior Jones 2-3.
PASSING — Fairland: Max Ward 5-10-0 137, Zander Schmidt 2-4-1 13; Ironton: Gage Salyers 6-12-0 137, Kyle Howell 0-2-0.
RECEIVING — Fairland: Gavin Hunt 3-106, Brennan West 2-23, Michael Stitt 1-3, Jordan Williams 1-3, Zander Schmidt 1-15; Ironton: Reid Carrico 3-81, Colin Freeman 1-26, Kyle Howell 1-19, Jordan Grizzle 1-11.