PORTSMOUTH — If you’re the Ironton Fighting Tigers, it’s sure still nice to have Reid Carrico this year.
But, perhaps more importantly for the defending Division V state runners-up on Friday night, Carrico’s newest supporting cast certainly put themselves on display.
So much so that they hit half a hundred in the first half.
The Fighting Tigers picked up where they left in the Ohio Valley Conference from last season, and stymied the young Portsmouth Trojans to only 110 total yards, en route to toppling the Trojans 50-9 inside a humid Trojan Coliseum.
The contest, of course with the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s Board of Directors decision to reduce the regular season to a minimum of six games, marked the season and OVC opener for both squads.
Although, the Fighting Tigers have bigger fish to fry than just winning the league again.
They are the defending Division V state runners-up after all, and are indeed loaded for bear at another opportunity at a state championship.
“Ironton isn’t the state runner-up for no reason. And we knew coming into this week that they had a lot coming back,” said Portsmouth coach Bruce Kalb. “We could gameplan to try to stop the best football player in all of southern Ohio, but what we focused on this week was would we be in the positions we need to be in to make plays. At times, I saw really really good things. Then other times, I saw things we need to work on. Let’s use this experience to grow from it and get better.”
Carrico carries the most impact, being the returning Ohio Division V Defensive Player of the Year — and an early front-runner for Mr. Football.
He has already signed to play college football for Ohio State starting next season.
Carrico carried 10 times for 95 yards and a hat trick of touchdowns against Portsmouth, but it was the coming out party for the likes of new starting quarterback Tayden Carpenter and running back Trevor Carter.
“We have a lot of guys on this team that are very athletic and are weapons with the ball in their hands. It’s a matter of finding ways to get them the ball and to do things,” said Ironton coach Trevon Pendleton. “The rhythm of the game was different than what we’re used to, but it was still good. Guys still made plays and it was a great experience for us and a good learning tool. We have guys all over the field, it’s just a matter of getting them the ball.”
However, the iron-clad Ironton defense — per usual — set the tone, keeping the Trojans out of the red zone on their opening possession, after Portsmouth returned the opening kickoff 50 yards and Ironton was whistled for a personal foul-face-mask penalty on the opening play.
The Fighting Tigers — with Carrico, Cameron Deere, Ashton Duncan, Dalton Crabtree and Gunner Crawford — continually pressured and hurried Trojan quarterback Drew Roe.
Roe ran for his life in the backfield, rushing 14 times for six yards while completing just 8-of-23 passes for 84.
As a team, the Trojans rushed 20 times for just 26 yards.
In amounting a 50-3 halftime advantage as the entire second half was played under the OHSAA’s running-clock rule, Ironton only allowed 28 total first-half yards on 34 Portsmouth plays.
The Trojans punted five times, including their final three after three-and-outs, and Trent Hacker had a 58-yard fumble recovery return for a touchdown which was negated due to a penalty.
“They (Fighting Tigers) are good at getting pressure with their down three (defensive linemen). They have strong and quick kids, but it’s also something that we have to take a look at schematically,” said Kalb.
All Portsmouth could account for was a Joel Bowling 41-yard field goal with two-and-a-half minutes remaining in the first quarter —and a Roe swing pass to Reade Pendleton, which resulted in a 27-yard touchdown just a minute and 13 seconds into the fourth.
That, which was Portsmouth’s final offensive play, was the Trojans’ longest gain of the entire night —only eclipsing a 26-yard pass from Roe to Chris Duff two plays prior.
“Drew is a very good athlete in space, so we just tried to pin our ears back on defense and move him off his land mark and corral him the best we could,” said Coach Pendleton.
Besides being unable to contain Carrico, the Trojans couldn’t control Carter either, as he added 77 yards on six attempts, including a 36-yard TD dart that capped the Fighting Tigers’ scoring and made it 50-3 on Jimmy Mahlmeister’s sixth consecutive extra point.
Speaking of Mahlmeister, he had five kickoffs which went for touchbacks —and two others that sailed to at least the 10-yard-line.
Carpenter — taking over for the graduated Gage Salyers — completed 6-of-7 passes for 110 yards and two scores, both of which were nicely-executed.
After Ironton stopped Portsmouth on downs at the Tigers’ 25-yard-line on its opening possession, it moved five plays and at least seven rushing yards on the first four between Carrico and Carter —before Carpenter completed a bubble screen to Hacker, who made a move to the inside and took it the house from 37 yards away.
On the extra-point attempt, the snap was poor, but Kyle Howell had the presence of mind to alertly pick up the loose pigskin and run it in — making it 8-0 just three minutes old.
The Fighting Tigers then forced the first Portsmouth punt, and after three Carter carries of six yards twice sandwiched around one of 13, Carrico dashed in from 29 yards to make it 15-0 with Mahlmeister’s first extra point at the 4:49 mark of the opening quarter.
Bowling booted his field goal to make it 15-3 just 2:13 later, but Carter quickly answered on the ensuing kickoff —returning it 50 yards between the 25s to the Trojan 24.
Carpenter completed a drag pass for 21 yards to Duncan down to the three, as Carrico plowed in from three yards out and made it 22-3 — and the rout was underway.
The Fighting Tigers then forced the Roe fumble two plays later that Hacker returned, as Deere ran in from eight yards out — after a six-play, 44-yard drive and only four seconds into the second stanza.
Ironton then forced three straight second-quarter three-and-outs, and answered each one with a touchdown following a short field —including a 25-yard reception by Will York, another short run by Carrico, and finally Carter’s jaunt.
Ironton amassed 334 rushing yards on 39 attempts, part of 46 plays and 444 total yards with 22 first downs.
On deck for the Orange and Black is the Blue Devils, as Gallia Academy invades Ironton for what many observers believe is once again this season’s OVC championship tilt.
This is usually the week-nine showdown, but because of the OHSAA’s decision and the OVC’s schedule revision, it’s next.
“It just seems weird and different that the Gallia Academy game is this early, but it’s still fun,” said Coach Pendleton. “I’m excited for us to just being able to play football.”
And, Ironton is already playing it at a high level.
The Trojans, meanwhile, travel to South Point — and do indeed have a winnable affair.
Kalb commented on his dozen-member senior class leading the way towards the Trojans’ improvement.
“They are committed to keep taking this program forward. It’s hard to say that after a loss like this, but Ironton is a really good football team. We’re young, and we have some inexperienced guys at some key positions, but we’re committed to getting better every week and gaining some experience,” he said.
* * *
Ironton 50, Portsmouth 9
Ironton 22 28 0 0— 50
Portsmouth 3 0 0 6— 9
I — Trent Hacker, 37-yard pass from Tayden Carpenter (Kyle Howell run), 9:06, 1st (8-0 I)
I — Reid Carrico, 29-yard run (Jimmy Mahlmeister kick), 4:49, 1st (15-0 I)
P — Joel Bowling, 41-yard field goal, 2:36, 1st (15-3 I)
I — Reid Carrico, 3-yard run (Jimmy Mahlmeister kick), 2:12, 1st (22-3 I)
I — Cameron Deere, 8-yard run (Jimmy Mahlmeister kick), 11:56, 2nd (29-3 I)
I — Will York, 25-yard pass from Tayden Carpenter (Jimmy Mahlmeister kick), 9:49, 2nd (36-3 I)
I — Reid Carrico, 5-yard run (Jimmy Mahlmeister kick), 7:21, 2nd (43-3 I)
I — Trevor Carter, 36-yard run (Jimmy Mahlmeister kick), 2:40, 2nd (50-3 I)
P — Reade Pendleton, 27-yard pass from Drew Roe (kick failed), 10:47, 4th (50-9 I)
First downs 22 9
Plays from scrimmage 46 43
Rushes-yards 39-334 20-26
Passing yards 110 84
Total yards 444 110
Cmp-Att-Int. 6-7-0 8-23-0
Fumbles-lost 3-2 1-1
Penalties-Yards 5-55 2-10
Punts-Ave. 0-0 5-28.6
RUSHING —Ironton: Reid Carrico 10-95 3TD, Trevor Carter 6-77 TD, Jaquez Keyes 10-55 Aaron Masters 2-24, Darrell Henderson 2-22, DeAngelo Weekly 1-34, Cameron Deere 1-8 TD, Jon Wylie 2-8, Austin Linn 1-13, Uriah Meadows 1-6, Aiden Young 3-(-8); Portsmouth: Drew Roe 14-6, Amare Johnson 4-14, Alberto Poxes 1-5, Donavan Carr 1-11
PASSING — Ironton: Tayden Carpenter 6-7-0-110 2TD; Portsmouth: Drew Roe 8-23-0-84 TD
RECEIVING — Ironton: Trent Hacker 1-37 TD, Will York 1-25 TD, Ashton Duncan 1-21, Erickson Barnes 1-18, Kyle Howell 1-14, Reid Carrico 1-5; Portsmouth: Reade Pendleton 3-30 TD, Chris Duff 2-31, Dariyonne Bryant 2-12, Donavan Carr 1-11
Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @BoggsSports © 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved