CHILLICOTHE, Ohio — Ironton ran its way right into the state championship game.
The Fighting Tigers (13-1) used a powerful, big-play rushing attack to defeat West Jefferson 49-21 Saturday night in an Ohio Division V high school football state semifinal game.
Ironton will take on Kirtland (14-0), which defeated Oak Harbor28-14 in the other semifinal, at 8 p.m. Saturday at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio, in the state championship game.
The game was close for a half and the Roughriders even led early. West Jefferson turned a turnover into a touchdown to take a 7-0 lead.
Blade Wolfe intercepted a Gage Salyers pass at the Roughriders’ 40 and returned it to the Fighting Tigers’ 36.
A personal foul on Ironton moved the ball to the 21.
Five plays later, Gabe Jones scored from the 2 and Mason Cordetti added the extra point.
The Tigers followed West Jefferson’s example, as Dalton Crabtree recovered a Jones fumble at the Roughriders’ 6 and on the next play Seth Fosson scored with less than one second remaining in the first quarter.
Avery Book’s extra point tied it 7-7.
Ironton took a 14-7 lead on a 1-yard sneak by Salyers and a Book conversion at 9:16 of the second quarter.
That lead lasted a mere 12 seconds, as Jones returned the ensuing kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown and Cordetti tacked on the extra point to tie 14-14.
The Tigers rallied again. Reid Carrico took an option pitch from Salyers and raced 72 yards for a touchdown for a 21-14 lead with 5:46 left before halftime to set the score at intermission.
Carrico struck again at 7:11 of the third quarter, following a Junior Jones block 12 yards to the end zone for a 28-14 lead. The TD capped a five-play, 79-yard drive that took 2:18.
Carrico made it 42-14 with a 70-yard touchdown run with 2:37 left in the third quarter, then dashed any slim hopes West Jefferson had of getting back in the game by intercepting a pass and returning it to the Roughriders 3. Freshman Trevor Carter scored from the 2 to make it 49-14.
Jones scored his third touchdown with 5:46 left in the game to pull the Roughriders within 49-21.
WEST JEFFERSON 7 7 0 7 — 21
IRONTON 7 14 21 7 — 49
WJ — Jones 2 run (Cordetti kick)
I — Fosson 6 run (Book kick)
I — Salyers 1 run (Book kick)
WJ — Jones 94 kickoff return (Cordetti kick)
I — Carrico 72 run (Book kick)
I — Carrico 12 run (Book kick)
I — Salyers 18 run (Book kick)
I — Carrico 70 run (Book kick)
I — Carter 2 run (Book kick)
WJ — Jones 9 run (Cordetti kick)