IRONTON, Ohio — There was only one area that the Gallia Academy football team didn’t dominate Friday night against Ironton. Unfortunately for the Blue Devils, that one area was the scoreboard.
The visiting Blue Devils outgained Ironton by a 2-to-1 margin in total yardage and also claimed a 19-7 edge in first downs, but the host Fighting Tigers ultimately held on for a narrow 14-13 decision in a Week 3 non-conference matchup at Tanks Memorial Stadium in Lawrence County.
Gallia Academy (1-2) turned in an effort reminiscent of the Fighting Tigers (3-0), churning out lots of yardage on the ground while also shutting down its opponent’s running attack. Overall, the Blue Devils outgained the hosts by a 300-151 margin in total yards offensively — including a 196-91 edge in the rushing department.
A pair of Patrick Lewis scores in the third quarter, however, allowed IHS to overcome a 7-0 halftime deficit, which included a back-breaking 60-yard punt return with 53 seconds remaining in the canto — giving Ironton its first lead of the night at 14-7.
In desperate need of making something happen late, the Blue Devils made the most of their golden opportunity with 1:24 left in regulation. Still trailing 14-7 and with its defense on the field, Gallia Academy recovered a fumble at its own 48-yard line.
Quarterback Wade Jarrell completed consecutive passes of 22 yards and 17 yards to Nick Clagg, moving the guests down to the Ironton 13-yard line. Eventually, facing a 4th-and-three at the six, Jarrell scrambled to buy some time before finding Clagg in a cut across the back of the endzone.
Jarrell released the pass and hit Clagg in stride with 30 seconds left in regulation, allowing Gallia Academy to cut its deficit down to one at 14-13. The Blue Devils elected to go for the win on the point-after-touchdown attempt, but Jarrell was pressured and threw an incomplete pass on the PAT — allowing Ironton to cling to its narrow one-point cushion.
GAHS attempted an onsides-kick on the ensuing kickoff, which was recovered by Ironton. The Fighting Tigers took a knee, watched as the clock expired and ultimately walked away with their sixth straight triumph over the Blue and White.
The Blue Devils jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the first quarter after Logan Allison plunged in from three yards out with 1:51 showing in the opening canto. That score was set up by a 59-yard jaunt by Ty Warnimont down to the IHS three, and Allison followed one play later.
The score remained that way through halftime and into the third stanza, when Ironton finally broke through in the scoring column on its opening drive of the second half.
The hosts marched 65 yards in eight plays to tie the contest, as Lewis plunged in from five yards out with 9:14 showing for a seven-all game.
After an exchange of possessions, the Blue Devils punted the ball away to Lewis at his own 40. Lewis returned the kick 60 yards to paydirt, ultimately giving Ironton a lead it would never relinquish the rest of the way.
After several trades in possession, Gallia Academy appeared to have its last best chance come to an end near midfield after an incomplete pass from Jarrell on fourth down fell incomplete — giving the hosts possession at their own 48 with 2:16 left in regulation.
Two plays later, however, the Devils’ defense came up with their only takeaway of the night — which ultimately set up the late-game fireworks down the stretch. Both teams committed one turnover apiece in the contest.
Warnimont led the Blue Devils with 60 rushing yards on two carries, followed by Luke Pullins with 45 yards on a dozen totes. Cody Russell added 37 rushing yards on eight tries, and Jarrell had 26 yards on 13 rushes. Jarrell was also 11-of-23 passing for 104 yards, with Clagg leading the wideouts with four catches for 48 yards. Russell also hauled in four passes for 39 yards.
Lewis led Ironton with a game-high 87 rushing yards on 12 carries, but no other IHS back accumulated more than 16 yards on the ground. Tanner Dutey finished the night 5-of-9 passing for 60 yards, with Aaron Stephens leading the wideouts with two catches for 20 yards.
Brian Williams had a pair of simultaneous sacks for GAHS defensively, both of which came during a critical Ironton drive that stalled at the GAHS 18-yard line in the second quarter. Dylan Saunders was a perfect 1-for-1 on PAT kicks, but missed field goal attempts of 33 and 40 yards in the first half.
The Blue Devils were penalized seven times for 55 yards, while Ironton was flagged five times for 40 yards. Gallia Academy hadn’t lost consecutive football games since Weeks 8 and 9 of the 2009 campaign before Friday night.
GAHS will look to end its current slide next Friday when it travels to Don Drumm Stadium to face Marietta in a Week 4 non-conference matchup at 7:30 p.m.