Fighting Tigers outscore Trojans in wild one, 49-42
PORTSMOUTH — Before the start of the game, the referee flipped the coin into the air and made the catch. The back judge came running over and signaled touchdown.
Okay, that didn’t really happen, but the officials got plenty of practice signaling for touchdowns in Friday’s Southeastern Ohio Athletic League game as the Ironton Fighting Tigers outscored the Portsmouth Trojans 49-42.
The two teams combined for nearly 700 yards of offense. Ironton racked up 348 yards and Portsmouth 349.
Ironton (5-3, 3-2) did most of its damage on the ground with 276 yards rushing. Dominic Murphy carried 15 times for 155 yards and two scores while quarterback Chad Miller ran 16 times for 64 yards.
Portsmouth (2-6, 1-4) ran for 148 yards — mostly in the first half — and pass for 201 — mostly in the second half.
“At this time of year, everybody is pretty good. There are no slouches out there,” Triplett said.
“We knew they had a good offense and a good quarterback. We knew they’d make some big plays. But we made a lot of big plays on defense.”
But the fireworks weren’t all supplied by the offense. Defense and special teams managed to get in on the act.
Miller had a big interception in the fourth quarter to set up a touchdown and the Fighting Tigers clinging to a one-point lead. Marc Carter later provided the margin of difference with an interception return for a touchdown.
Portsmouth used its special teams to get back in the game in the first half. Portsmouth’s special teams also helped Ironton get a couple of early scores.
A 20-yard punt after the opening series of the game left the ball at the Ironton 49. Dominic Murphy then went left, got a crushing block from fullback Tony Murphy, and raced 5 1 yards for the touchdown on Ironton’s first play from scrimmage.
Craig Stamper kicked the first of seven conversions and it was 7-0.
“We had some of our best drives tonight. Having Tony (Murphy) back was a big plus and (Major) Brice did a nice job,” Triplett said.
Portsmouth shanked a punt for just 6 yards on its next possession and Ironton had to drive all of 35 yards for its next score. Miller’s 1-yard quarterback sneak extended the lead to 14-0.
Portsmouth came right back to score with a 55-yard drive capped by Wes Jordan’s 4-yard run and it was 14-7.
Miller was hurt momentarily and Drew Kuehne replaced him at quarterback.
On second down, Kuehne hit tight end Andy Colegrove with a pass near the sidelines and he turned and outran the secondary for a 67-yard touchdown to extend the lead to 21-7.
Portsmouth answered with a 60-yard, 10-play drive that ended on a 6-yard touchdown pass to Matt Chandler on a fourth-and-goal play. Chaze Southern ran for the conversion and it was 21-15.
A blocked put gave Portsmouth the ball at the 7-yard line and quarterback Shane Porter scored on the next play to tie the game. However, the conversion kick failed.
The Fighting Tigers were undaunted as they marched 56 yard in 10 plays capped by Tony Murphy’s 5-yard touchdown run and it was 28-21.
It didn’t take the Trojans long to tie the game as John Walker returned the kickoff 83 yards for a touchdown.
The two teams traded fumbles to begin the second half which resulted in Ironton losing one yard in the exchange and the Fighting Tigers found themselves with the ball at the Portsmouth 33. Eight plays later Tony Murphy scored his second touchdown on a 3-yard run and it was 35-28.
Portsmouth went to the air more in the second half and got to the 1-yard line where Porter found Chandler once again and it was 35-34 when the conversion kick failed.
The Trojans threatened to take the lead with a drive to the Ironton 6-yard line. A holding penalty put the ball on the 17 and the Trojans found themselves faced with a fourth-and-goal at the 7.
But Andy Colegrove and Wes Runyon combined on a sack of Porter back at the 17.
“The stop down there was big. The kids showed a lot of character and then we came back and scored later,” Triplett said. “We rushed the passes better than we have all year.”
Runyon also had a fumble recovery while John Paul Pemberton had one of two Ironton quarterback sacks.
After an Ironton punt, Miller came up with his interception at the Portsmouth 37 with 3:34 left. Two plays later Dominic Murphy shot past the defense on a 35-yard run and the lead was 42-34.
“Their quarterback has a good arm and he reads his receivers well,” Miller said. “I saw the guy start to run a slant and I couldn’t get more perfect timing.”
Portsmouth began another drive to Ironton 48, but this time Porter tried to throw while being chased and Carter picked off the pass and ran it back 55 yards to open up a 49-34 lead.
The Trojans refused to quit and went 70 yards in 10 plays to score on a 10-yard pass to John Harcha with one minute left. Porter passed to Walker for the conversion.
However, the Trojans final hopes were dashed when the onside kickoff went out of bounds. Miller knelt down twice as the final seconds ticked off the clock.
Porter finished 15 of 30 for 201 yards and ran 19 times for 52 yards. Jordan had 83 yards on 14 carries and Malik White caught four passes for 90 yards.
Irn - Dominic Murphy 51 run (Craig Stamper kick) 9:36
Irn - Chad Miller 1 run (Craig Stamper kick) 5:54
Prt - Wes Jordan 4 run (Drew Throckmorton kick) 3:23
Irn - Andy Colegrove 67 pass from Drew Kuehne (Craig Stamper kick) 2:25
Prt - Matt Chandler 6 pass from Shane Porter (Chaze Southern run) 10:28
Prt - Shane Porter 7 run (kick failed) 8:03
Irn - Tony Murphy 5 run (Craig Stamper kick) 2:39
Prt - John Walker 83 kickoff return (Drew Throckmorton kick)
Irn - Tony Murphy 3 run (Craig Stamper kick) 5:29
Prt - Matt Chandler 1 pass from Shane Porter (kick failed) 1:50
Irn - Dominic Murphy 35 run (Craig Stamper kick) 3:17
Irn - Marc Carter 55 interception return (Craig Stamper kick) 2:26
Prt - John Harcha 10 pass from Shane Porter (John Walker pass from Shane Porter) 1:00
RUSHING-Ironton: Dominic Murphy 15-155, Chad Miller 16-4, Tony Murphy 10-36, Major Brice 6-31, team 1-minus 10; Portsmouth: Wes Jordan 14-83, Shane Porter 19-52, Chaze Southern 5-13.
PASSING-Ironton: Chad Miller 1-4-1 5, Drew Kuehne 1-1-0 67; Portsmouth: Shane Porter 15-30-2 201.
RECEIVING-Ironton: Andy Colegrove 1-67, Marc Carter 1-5; Portsmouth: John Walker 5-53, Malik White 4-90, Matt Chandler 3-22, Wes Jordan 1-19, John Harcha 2-17.