IRONTON, Ohio — In all fairness, the Fighting Tigers probably just clinched a league title two games into the schedule.
Host Ironton stormed out to a 21-0 first quarter lead and ultimately cruised to a 55-7 victory over the Gallia Academy football team on Friday night during a pivotal Ohio Valley Conference matchup at Tanks Memorial Stadium in Lawrence County.
The Fighting Tigers (2-0, 2-0 OVC) notched their 10th consecutive league victory … and did so with a balanced attack that saw five different players produce touchdowns by night’s end.
Senior running back Reid Carrico — an Ohio State University signee — also helped spark Ironton’s offensive prowess by accounting four of the team’s first five touchdowns, giving the Orange and Black a 35-7 cushion just over a minute into the third period.
IHS outgained the Blue Devils (1-1, 1-1) by a 338-200 overall margin in total yards of offense, including a sizable 184-13 edge in rushing yards. The hosts also claimed an 18-7 advantage in first downs.
Carrico gave Ironton a quick 14-0 lead with TD runs of five and seven yards by the 6:23 mark of the first, then Aaron Masters hauled in a 54-yard scoring pass from Tayden Carpenter for a 21-point lead with 3:07 left in the opening frame.
GAHS broke into the scoring column with 6:21 remaining in the first half as Briar Williams hauled in an 81-yard scoring pass from Noah Vanco — turning things back into a competitive game at 21-7.
Carrico added a 17-yard run with 2:22 left in the half for a 28-7 halftime lead, then tacked on a 1-yard run at the 10:57 mark of the third for a 28-point advantage.
Kyle Howell provided a 37-yard punt return for a score 41 seconds later, then Dalton Crabtree hauled in a 3-yard pass from Carpenter at the 4:15 mark for a 49-7 contest headed into the fourth.
Will York closed the Ironton scoring with a 3-yard run with 5:43 left in regulation, completing the 48-point outcome.
Hudson Shamblin led the GAHS ground attack with 49 yards on two carries, while Vanco completed 11-of-22 passes for 187 yards and a score. Williams led the GAHS wideouts with four catches for 99 yards.
Carrico led IHS with 80 rushing yards on 11 carries, while Carpenter completed 9-of-13 passes for 154 yards and two scores. Trent Hacker paced the hosts with two catches for 42 yards.
Gallia Academy returns to action Friday when it welcomes Rock Hill to Memorial Field for an OVC contest at 7 p.m.
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Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.