Ironton beats rival Portsmouth to clinch OVC title outright

Published 2:10 am Saturday, October 21, 2023

Ironton Fighting Tigers’ linebacker Austin Bump (55) makes the stop on a leaping Portsmouth Trojans’ running back Chase Heiland during Friday’s game. Ironton won 21-6 to claim the Ohio Valley Conference championship outright. (Jeremy Holtzapfel/


Ironton FIghting Tigers defensive lineman Jesse Copas (44) grabs hold of Portsmouth wide receiver J.T. Williams (13) during Friday’s game. (Jeremy Holtzapfel/


Ironton Fighting Tigers’ Shaun Terry brings down Portsmouth wide receiver Lucas Bradley (11) to break up a pass during Friday’s game. (Jeremy Holtzapfel/


Ironton Fighting Tigers’ running back Gavin Hart (22) powers his way through the Portsmouth Trojans defense during Friday’s game. Ironton won 21-6. (Jeremy Holtzapfel/


Ironton isn’t leaving the Ohio Valley Conference empty handed.

The Fighting Tigers beat arch-rival Portsmouth 21-6 on Friday and will exit the league with its 9th league title in an 11-year membership and its 5th straight.

Ironton (9-1, 7-0) also finishes first in the Region 19 Division 5 computer playoff ratings and will host a home playoff game against Worthington Christian next Friday.

Portsmouth (5-5, 4-3) will play at Fairland in the first round.

Although it might seem like Ironton didn’t play well, head coach Trevon Pendleton said that his team did play well but you have to give credit to Portsmouth for its effort in this long tenured rivalry.

“There were some bright spots. It don’t look like it. In a rivalry game you can throw the records out the window. You can throw everything out the window,” said Pendleton.

“They do a good job and, obviously, we’ve got to get better.”

The Ironton-Portsmouth rivalry is the second longest in Ohio history. Ironton now leads the series 66-57-8 and has won the last  7 meetings.

The Trojans controlled the ball in the first quarter behind the running of Chase Heiland who carried 11 ties for 64 yards but the Trojans were unable to dent the scoreboard.

After a scoreless first quarter, Ironton was able to break the tie as Shaun “Mr. Electric” Terry returned a punt 72 yards twisting and weaving and then sprinting through the Portsmouth defense.

David Fields kick put the lead at 7-0 with 10:55 left in the second quarter.

Ironton drove to the Portsmouth 11 only to have Thacker tackled for a 3-yard loss on a fourth-and-one.

But after forcing punt, Ironton drove 68 yards in 7 plays keyed by Jesse Copas’ 33-yard run to the Trojans’ 20.

Zayne “The Train” Williams scored on a 3-yard run as he went left, cut back right and shed 5 tackles along the way.

Fields’ conversion kick made it 14-0 with jut 1:33 to play in the half.

Portsmouth used a 53-yard keeper by quarterback Camron Williams to reach the Ironton 26, but a holding penalty moved the ball back to the 36 and Aiden Layne and Copas sacked Williams for a loss on fourth down as the half ended.

Ironton came out the second half and went 67-yards unjust 4 plays. A leaping 28-yard catch by Tyler Roach got the ball to the Trojans’ 32, a 15-yard personal foul on Portsmouth moved the ball to the 15.

After a 5-yard penalty on Ironton, Williams sped outside and outran the defense into the end zone and the lead grew to 21-0 .

Ironton tried an onside kickoff but the Trojans recovered at the Fighting Tigers’ 49.

Portsmouth got to the Ironton 41 but was faced with a fourth-and-16 and lined up in the shotgun. Camron Williams took the snap but quick-kicked and Ironton was called for roughing the kicker giving the Trojans the ball at the Ironton 26.

Portsmouth scored 6 plays later as Heiland ran 7 yards with 2:21 left in the quarter. The conversion snap was bad and the run failed.

Portsmouth failed to get a first down on a fourth-and-one at the Ironton 20 but the Fighting Tigers failed to capitalize as an illegal procedure penalty and a 6-yard loss sack by Noah Livingston led to a fourth down play that came up 2 yards shy of the first down.

Neither team threatened over the final 5:49 of the game.

Ironton finished with 232 total yards getting 158 on the ground as Williams rushed 9 times for 55 yards, Copas 3 for 42 and Hart 10 for 38. Thacker was 7-of-11 passing for 74 yards.

Portsmouth ran the ball 49 times for 186 yards as Heiland was the workhorse with 30 carries for 119 yards and a touchdown. Camron Williams ran 16 times for 79 yards.

However, Portsmouth was 1-of-4 passing for a minus 5 yards.

Pendleton said his team is happy with what it has accomplished during the regular season, but now the focus turns toward the postseason playoffs.

“We’re bumped and bruised, but everyone is at this point. There’s no excuse for it. You’ve got to dig down deep and keep playing,” said Pendleton.

“Obviously, just go back to the drawing board and let’s work to get better each and every day. We’ve had these spells before with teams that have made a run to the state championship game, so we know it can be done.”

Portsmouth 0 0 6 0 = 6

Ironton     0 14 7 0 = 21

Second Quarter

Irn — Shaun Terry 72 punt return (David Fields kick) 10:55

Irn — Zayne Williams 3 run (David Fields kick) 1:33

Third Quarter

Irn — Zayne Williams 20 run (David Fields kick) 10:45

Prt — Chase Heiland 7 run (run failed) 2:21


Prt   Irn

First downs 10 13

Rushes-yards 49-186 29-158

Passing yards -5 74

Total yards 181 232

Cmp-Att-Int 1-4-0 7-11-0

Fumbles-lost 1-0 2-2

Penalties-yards 7-64 9-76

Punts-average 4-34.3 2-37.0


Individual Leaders

RUSHING–Portsmouth: Chase Heiland 30-119 TD, Camron Williams 16-79, J.T. Williams 2-minus 13, Nick Copley 1-1; Ironton: Zayne Williams 9-55 2-TD, Gavin Hart 10-38, Jesse Copas 3-42, Bailey Thacker 4-15, Braden Schreck 1-0, Kayden Edwards 1-minus 1.

PASSING–Portsmouth: Camron Williams 1-3-0 minus-5, J.T. Williams 0-1-0; Ironton: Bailey Thacker 7-11-0 74.

RECEIVING–Portsmouth: Chase Heiland 1-minus 5; Ironton: Tyler Roach 3-41, Aris Pittman 2-14, Shaun Terry 2-19.