It was technically win No. 501, but Raceland coach T.J. Maynard still sees it as No. 500.
The Rams held Ironton to just 126 yards of offense to finish the regular season with a 17-0 win on Friday night at Raceland-Worthington High School.
After sanctions against Fairview gave Raceland a forfeit win from last year, the Rams’ official win total reached 500 earlier in the morning.
But Maynard said that he and his team will always see the win over Ironton as the true milestone mark.
“You win games on the field,” Maynard said. “You earn wins, so this is our 500th win. And I’m tickled to death, not only for our players, but past players and past coaches. This program has been here a long time before me and will be here a long time after me.”
With his team shutting out Ironton, Maynard said the game was complete defensive effort. The Rams defense held Fighting Tigers running back D’Angelo Palladino to just 40 yards after he had 146 last week against Oak Hill.
Ironton coach Mark Vass said that every time his team tried to get Palladino in open space, Raceland’s defensive line was there to meet him.
“We didn’t control the line of scrimmage on offense,” Vass said. “They got size and they’re pretty good up front and gave us fits up there. We had trouble running the ball ... they played good defense and we didn’t execute that well on offense.”
Trailing 17-0 with nine minutes in the third quarter, Ironton looked to get back in the game behind quarterback Tristan Cox. The junior quarterback had 19 pass attempts in the second half, and finished the game 11 of 22 for 47 yards.
It also seemed like every time Cox dropped back to pass, he was flushed out of the pocket by someone in a Raceland jersey.
“We did an automatic stunt based on formation and Seth Holbrook was coming free every time,” Maynard said. “(Passing) is not what Ironton does, so if we could get them in that situation throwing the football, we would have some success.”
Facing pressure from the Raceland defensive line, Cox ended up throwing three interceptions — all to Rams defensive back Maverick Dixon.
Dixon, who said he’s never had multi-pick game, almost had an interception return for a touchdown but a block-in-the-back penalty negated the score.
“I’m not going to lie, I was a little disappointed they called that touchdown back,” Dixon said. “I just saw the receiver running across the field and I just sat on it and picked it off. I ran around the end, had some blockers and was able to take it back.”
On offense, Raceland relied on the big play to put points on the board. On the very first possession, Connor Messer completed a double-reverse 47-yard pass to Rodney Vance which set up a David Pennington field goal.
With Ironton focusing on Daylin Beach, Kane Snyder was the one to lead the Rams’ rushing attack with a game-high 82 yards.
Snyder set himself up for a touchdown in the second quarter. After rushing 21 yards for a first down, he followed it up with a 29-yard scamper into the end zone.
“I really thought they were trying to take Daylin away, so we came back weak with Kane,” Maynard said. “I thought we did a good job up front opening holes and Kane is just a good runner.”
Beach ended up with 44 yards on 18 carries while sophomore Carson Christian had 65 yards on 11 carries.
Messer had the game’s other touchdown. Against single coverage, the wide receiver pulled in a ball over the defender’s head for a 24-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Adam Elkins.
Raceland (8-2) is going into next week’s playoff opener on a winning streak and with home-field advantage for at least three games.
Maynard said his team is going into next week with a lot of momentum as well.
“We told our kids that this was going to be a fun game with no pressure,” Maynard said. “But at the same time we didn’t want to take steps back. We know that first-round game will probably be a mismatch. That’s why we picked this up because it would be a great challenge for us, and good preparation for the playoffs against a good football team.”
Ironton (3-7) needed a win to stay in playoff contention. The Tigers committed 11 penalties for 102 yards, including six personal foul penalties in the first half.