MASSILLON, Ohio — Kirtland football coach Tiger LaVerde said he expected a low-scoring game Saturday against Ironton.
He was half right. That’s one of the few things LaVerde miscalculated in the Hornets’ 38-0 victory over the Fighting Tigers.
Kirtland’s small, quick defense dominated, holding Ironton to 58 total yards and handing the Tigers their first shutout defeat since Sept. 15, 2017, when they lost 35-0 at Ashland. The Hornets limited Tigers star Reid Carrico to 30 yards on 11 carries, using low, sure tackling to keep the Ohio State prospect in check.
Ironton went three plays and out on three of its first four drives in falling behind 10-0. The Tigers finished with drives of two, four, one and five plays during a cool, overcast day when nothing they tried worked.
“They do a good job,” Ironton coach Trevon Pendleton said. “They keep you off balance.”
Kirtland intercepted one pass and recovered two fumbles. The fumble recoveries set up touchdowns. The Hornets ran out the clock at the Ironton 27 after the interception.
“When you lose time of possession and turnovers, it’s hard to win football games,” Pendleton said.
The Tigers struggled with the speed of Kirtland’s 3-4 defense, which turned into a 4-4 on short yardage and didn’t allow the Tigers to convert any of their six third-down plays. Ironton picked up just three first downs.
Kirtland defense set the tone early. After stopping Ironton in three plays on the Tigers’ first drive, the Hornets came up big again on the second. Ironton faced fourth-and-1 at the Kirtland 29 with the game scoreless and 7:10 left in the first quarter. Carrico stumbled and was swarmed by the defense for a 1-yard loss.
The Hornets then drove to the Ironton 13 and Mario Rodin kicked a 30-yard field goal that surprisingly proved to be the winning points.
Ironton never cracked the red zone and passed for just 13 yards.