Prep football: Warriors fall to Ironmen

VINCENT – Locked in a close ballgame, there comes a time when the defense simply has to get a stop.

If it doesn’t, then that close ball game quickly becomes not quite so close.

Such was the case for the Warren Warriors, who watched the Jackson Ironmen pound out 407 yards rushing to pull away for a 35-20 win in Vincent Friday night, spoiling homecoming for the Warriors.

“It’s typical Jackson football. They’re good at what they do,” said Warren football coach Andy Schob. “We just weren’t physically good enough to beat them.”

On four different occasions the Ironmen had the ball leading by just a single score.

And every time they put the ball in the endzone to go just one step further away from the Warriors.

“You’ve got to find a way to stop the run,” Schob said. “It wasn’t the kids weren’t trying. We just physically could not stop them.”

Despite an offense that punted just once in the entire game – that coming after an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty negated a first down – the Ironmen couldn’t get away from the Warriors.

Managing just 61 yards of total offense in the first half and a meager 159 for the game, the Warriors none-the-less kept pace with the Ironmen, as it wasn’t until the fourth quarter Jackson got a two-score lead.

The Ironmen got the scoring started on their second possession from scrimmage, making use of reserve running backs when starter Derek Rafferty went down with an apparent knee injury on his first carry of the game.

All those backup backs did was run for 113, 126 and 73 yards respectively while combining for five touchdowns.

“We pretty much went to a goal line and they were still driving our kids (off the line of scrimmage),” Schob said.

The scoring started with Johnny Farley finding the endzone from 14 yards out with 2:18 to play in the first quarter.

Warren answered the Jackson score, thanks to 20 yards in penalties assessed against the Ironmen on the ensuing possession and capitalized when quarterback Austin Klintworth connected with David Ryan on a 25-yard touchdown pass.

That 25-yard strike accounted for nearly half the offense mustered by the Warriors in the first half of play, but despite their inability to move downfield Warren never trailed by more than eight points in the first half.

Trailing 7-6, the Warriors could have gained an opportunity to take the lead, but watched the Ironmen turn to their ground game to cover 80 yards on six plays, with Farley again finding the endzone, this time from 15 yards out, to make the score 14-6 with 7:25 in the opening half.

Jackson nearly took a 17-6 advantage into the break, but Ironman kicker Jimmy Voiles attempt at a 42-yard field goal was blocked by the Warrior defense, and Jake Powell returned the block all the way to the endzone. That touchdown was negated by an illegal block against the Warriors, and deja vu struck again.

Attempting a 22-yard field goal after the penalty was assessed, the Warriors’ kick was blocked by the Ironmen, but Warren kicker Alex Miller, who also stars on the soccer team, scooped up the ball and raced 15 yards into the endzone to set the halftime score 14-12 in favor of Jackson.

“It was a good play. I’m sure he (Miller) is excited. He’s a great athlete. Unfortunately we can only use him to kick, or the soccer coach would kill me,” Schob laughed.

Down by two, the Warriors stalled on their first possession to open the second half and the Ironmen answered, going 77 yards on seven plays with Jake Crabtree getting into the endzone from 24 yards out with 5:27 to play in the third quarter.

Jackson tallied another touchdown following Warren’s second stalled drive of the quarter, with Gabe Griffiths finding the endzone from 11 yards out with 10:50 in regulation.

The Warrior offense discovered a spark of life in the second half behind tailback Jared Isner, who returned from an injury to pick up 57 yards on nine carries, accounting for all but 17 of Warren’s rushing yardage.

Isner’s 27 yard run set up the final score of the game for the Warriors, as Klintworth again connected with Ryan to make the score 28-20 with 7:50 to play in the game.

Rather than stopping the Jackson offense, the Warrior defense saw the Ironmen run over four minutes off the clock on nine plays as Griffiths scored from 21 yards out to set the final margin.

Overall, the Ironmen held a 407 to 74 advantage on the ground, and 443 to 159 advantage in total offense as they improved their record to 3-3 on the season while the Warriors fell to 2-4.

“When they can play their game, they’re really good,” Schob said.