IRONTON It isn’t that Kyle Howell didn’t hear the advisement to steer clear of a short Gallia Academy punt.
“Everyone on the sideline was yelling ‘Peter,’” the Ironton senior said, referencing the time-honored football jargon for a dangerously short opponent’s punt that should be avoided. “But I just said, screw it, and I went up and caught the ball, and next thing I know, I’m bobbling it, and two people came over top of me.”
Like just about everything else Friday night, that daring approach still went right for Ironton: Howell fielded the ball at the Blue Devils’ 37, evaded two oncoming potential tacklers, and, as Howell put it, “I just go score. Thank God I had good blockers in front of me.”
Howell’s effort backed four rushing touchdowns from Reid Carrico, as well as key plays on defense and special teams, in the Fighting Tigers’ 55-7 victory over Gallia Academy at Tanks Memorial Stadium.
Tayden Carpenter completed nine of 13 passes for 154 yards and touchdowns to Aaron Masters and Dalton Crabtree for Ironton (2-0, 2-0 Ohio Valley Conference). Backup QB Will York closed the scorebook with a 9-yard scoring scramble.
The Fighting Tigers nearly completely bottled up Gallia Academy (1-1, 1-1 OVC), aside from an 81-yard second-quarter scoring strike from Noah Vanco to Briar Williams. The Blue Devils didn’t escape red digits on the ground until backup signal-caller Hudson Shamblin’s 62-yard keeper on the first play of their final drive.
“In a game like this, we’ve gotta be able to do both, be able to pass and run,” Gallia Academy coach Alex Penrod said. “We know just how dynamic the Ironton defense is, whether you’re throwing or running the ball. They’re just so disciplined and so quick and fast to the football, and they were able to take us out of our dynamic a little bit.”
Three first-quarter Ironton scores caused that too. Carrico ran for touchdowns of 5 and 7 yards on the Fighting Tigers’ first two possessions, and Carpenter threaded the needle to Masters between two Blue Devils defenders on the sideline for a 54-yard scoring strike.
Carrico emphatically put a stop to Gallia Academy’s ensuing attempt to get back in it. The Blue Devils got to the Ironton 8-yard line before consecutive penalties pushed them out of the red zone, but still had third-and-20 from the Fighting Tigers’ 23.
Then Carrico delivered a strip-sack that the Blue Devils recovered for a loss of 20 yards on the final play of the first quarter.
“When you got a leader that’s willing to step up and play great in all three phases of the game,” Ironton coach Trevon Pendleton said of Carrico, “it just sets the tone for your team.”
Carrico added a big play on special teams, picking the opening kick of the second half up off the Tanks turf and returning it 65 yards. Four plays later, he finished off the drive with a 1-yard TD plunge.
“That’s why he’s the recruit he is,” Penrod said of the Ohio State commit’s all-around impact. “It just shows the hard work that he puts in, and it’s really contagious. It goes through that whole program.
“As an opposing coach, they’re a fun team to watch, because that’s what you want your team to look like.”
Howell’s scoring return set the running clock in motion less than two minutes into the second half.
“Honestly, when he was first fielding it, I thought he called a fair catch, the way he was pushing the ball,” a grinning Pendleton said of Howell. “Kyle’s a kid that’s on the edge a little bit of being reckless at times, but that’s the way we like him playing. Honestly, he’s a very disciplined, fundamental kid, so I don’t want it to sound (negative), but he plays with that let-loose mentality. It really plays in the favor of the style we want to play.”
GALLIA ACAD. 0 7 0 0 — 7
IRONTON 21 7 21 6 — 55
I — Reid Carrico 5 run (Jimmy Mahlmeister kick), 8:45
I — Carrico 7 run (Mahlmeister kick), 6:23
I — Aaron Masters 54 pass from Tayden Carpenter (Mahlmeister kick), 3:07
GA — Briar Williams 81 pass from Noah Vanco (Caleb Geiser kick), 6:21
I — Carrico 17 run (Mahlmeister kick), 2:22
I — Carrico 1 run (Mahlmeister kick), 10:57
I — Kyle Howell 37 punt return (Mahlmeister kick), 10:16
I — Dalton Crabtree 3 pass from Carpenter (Mahlmeister kick), 4:15
I — Will York 9 run (kick blocked), 5:43
First Downs 7 18
Rushes-Yards 23-13 36-184
Comp-Att-Int 11-23-0 9-13-0
Passing Yards 187 154
Fumbles-Lost 1-0 1-0
Punts-Avg. 7-25.7 1-46.0
Penalties-Yards 8-84 10-85
Gallia Academy rushing: Hud. Shamblin 2-49, Williams 2-16, Hun. Shamblin 4-3, Beasy 2-2, Armstrong 9-(-11), Team 2-(-19), Vanco 2-(-27).
Ironton rushing: Carrico 11-80, Carter 6-38, Deere 5-31, Carpenter 3-16, Keyes 4-14, York 2-12, West 1-9, Howell 1-4, Wilson 1-0, Team 2-(-20).
Gallia Academy passing: Vanco 11 of 22 for 187 yards, Hud. Shamblin 0 of 1.
Ironton passing: Carpenter 9 of 13 for 154 yards.
Gallia Academy receiving: Williams 4-99, Beasy 1-39, Woodson 2-21, Franklin 1-18, Armstrong 3-10.
Ironton receiving: Masters 1-54, Hacker 2-42, Deere 1-23, Carrico 1-14, Wilson 1-13, Carter 1-7, Crabtree 1-3, Duncan 1-(-2).
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