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Machine-like Ironton blasts Golden Rockets, 56-6

Ironton Fighting Tigers’ quarterback Gage Salyers (7) gets a big block from Reid Carrico (28) that helps spring him on a touchdown run during Saturday’s Division 5 Region 19 quarterfinal playoff win over Wellston, 56-6. (Kent Sanborn/Southern Ohio Sports Photos)

Jim Walker
jim.walker@irontontribune.com

When all the parts are working, it’s easy to see why the Ironton Fighting Tigers look like a well-oiled machine.
The offense ran well but threw even better, the defense was in shut down mode and the kicking game made key contributions as Ironton routed the Wellston Golden Rockets 56-6 in the Division 5 Region 19 quarterfinals on Saturday night.
Wellston (7-4) did not have a first down in the first half and finished with minus-14 yards of total offense.
“Defense is still playing great, playing responsibility-sound football. Special teams have to tshore it up. You can’t give them short field position and when we do give them short field position, we’ve got to be able to turn them away,” said Ironton coach Trevon Pendleton.
“Offensively, we didn’t execute as highly as we like to. We’ve got to do a better job on the offensive side of the ball, but ultimately, it’s a win and we’re on to the next round.”
Ironton (10-1) will now play Amanada-Clearcreek in the regional semifinals next Saturday at Jackson High School.
In the other Region 19 games, Clearcreek routed Columbus Academy 41-10, Wheelersburg rallied and then held on for a 28-23 win over Minford, and West Lafayette Ridgewood cruised past Portsmouth 56-21.
Turning the machine’s crankshaft was senior quarterback Gage Salyers who ran six times for 70 yards and scored four touchdowns while completing 6-of-10 passes for 126 yards and two touchdowns. He also caught a pass for 26 yards.
“(Salyers) is a special player, that’s for sure. He’s the guy, any play no matter what you’re calling, he can make something happen. He’s definitely a weapon and something nice to have. We’re definitely glad he’s on our side of the ball. Youngstown State is definitely getting a good one,” said Pendleton.
Reid Carrico ran 12 times for 112 yards and two scores as Ironton racked up 262 yards on the ground and 423 total yards for the game.
The Fighting Tigers’ defense — a.k.a. The Iron Curtain — held Wellston to a meager 35 net total yards. The Golden Rockers had 58 yards passing and minus 23 rushing. They had minus-3 yards total offense in the first half and one first down.
Wellston punted on its first six possessions of the game without a first down including the first series of the game as Ironton went 58 yards in seven plays.
Carrico powered his way into the end zone from a yard out for the touchdown in a drive highlighted by Salyers’ passes of 27 yards to Ashton Duncan and 7 more to Kyle Howell.
Avery Book’s conversion kick made it 7-0 at the 8:12 mark.
After forcing another punt, Howell returned a punt 35 yards to Wellston 10-yard line and Salyers scored on an 8-yard run two plays later and it was 14-0 with 5:47 on the clock.
Ironton put its offensive machine in high gear in the second quarter and scored five touchdowns in take a 49-6 halftime lead.
Salyers hit Collin Freeman with a short 6-yard pass and then the duo teamed up with a well-thrown pass and an excellent catch by Freeman for 36 yards and the TD to make it 21-0 at the 10:10 mark.
A short punt gave Ironton the ball at the Wellston 45 and four plays later Salyers hit Jordan Grizzle combined on a 42-yard TD pass on a fourth down play and it was 28-0.
Following a three-and-out, Ironton had the ball at the Wellston 48. Cameron Deere bolted 28 yards to the 20 and four plays later Salyers scored on his second 8-yard TD run.
Backed up to the 7-yard line, Wellston punted again and Ironton had the ball at the Rockets’ 31. Three plays later, Salyers got a nice block from Carrico to get him into the secondary and Grizzle threw a key block to spark a 32-yard touchdown run and a 42-0 lead with 48 seconds left in the half.
Wellston returned the kickoff 80 yards to the Ironton 11 and Rylan Molihan threw a halfback pass to Hunter Smith for the touchdown with 30 seconds on the clock and the Golden Rockets were on the scoreboard at 42-6.
But the scoring wasn’t finished.
Howell threw a pass to Salyers covering 26 yards to the Wellston 39. A penalty move the ball back 5 yards and then Salyers went back to pass, eluded the rush and broke several tackles as he race 44 yards for the score with no time on the clock.
Ironton got the ball to start the second half with the running clock in effect for the eighth time this season in 11 games.
The Fighting Tigers got the ball to start the half and it took just three plays to score with Carrico bolting 45 yards with 9:55 left in the third quarter. Izsak Unger kicked the conversion to complete the scoring.
“I’m just proud of all these guys. I think 2014 is the last time we won a (playoff) game here so it’s great to win a playoff game and it’s great to win here in the Tank and send the seniors out the right way. We’re undefeated at home this year. We send the seniors out in their last game at the Tank in honorable fashion. They done a great job.”
Uriah Meadows and Lincoln Barnes each had interceptions for the second unit to prevent and possible Wellston scores.
Wellston 0 6 0 0 = 6
Ironton 14 35 7 0 = 56
First Quarter
Irn — Reid Carrico 1 run (Avery Book kick) 8:12
Irn — Gage Salyers 8 run (Avery Book kick) 5:47
Second Quarter
Irn — Collin Freeman 36 pass from Gage Salyers (Avery Book kick) 10:10
Irn — Jordan Grizzle 42 pass from Gage Salyers (Avery Book kick) 6:52
Irn — Gage Salyers 8 run (Avery Book kick) 3:28
Irn — Gage Salyers 32 run (Avery Book kick) 0:48
We — Hunter Smith 11 pass from Rylan Molihan (pass failed) 0:30
Irn — Gage Salyers 44 run (Avery Book kick) 0:00
Third Quarter
Irn — Reid Carrico 45 run (Izsak Unger kick) 9:55
——
Wel Irn
First downs 5 18
Rushes-yards 25-(-)23 36-262
Passing yards 58 161
Total yards 35 423
Cmp-Att-Int 6-15-2 8-14-0
Fumbles-lost 2-0 2-0
Penalties-yards 1-10 6-60
Punts-average 7-33.0 3-36.7
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Individual Leaders
RUSHING — Wellston: Rylan Molihan 11-11, Jonathon Garvin 4-3, R.J. Kemp 8-minus 22, Isaac Molihan 1-minus 15; Ironton: Reid Carrico 12-112, Gage Salyers 6-70, Cameron Deere 4-45, Seth Fosson 3-6, Kameron Browning 3-8, Gunnar Crawford 2-11, Tayden Carpenter 3-7, Jacob Sloan 1-3, Trevor Carter 1-6, Terrell Mize 1-minus 6.
PASSING — Wellston: R.J. Kemp 5-12-2 47, Rylan Molihan 1-1-0 11, Isaac Molihan 0-2-0; Ironton: Gage Salyers 6-10-0 126, Kyle Howell 1-10 26, Tayden Carpenter 1-3-0 9.
RECEIVING — Wellston: Hunter Smith 2-32, Jeremiah Frisby 2-17, Jonathon Garvin 3-9; Ironton: Ashton Duncan 2-35, Kyle Howell 1-7, Collin Freeman 2-42, Jordan Grizzle 1-42, Gage Salyers 1-26, Braxton Pringle 1-9.