Ironmen Fall To Granville In Opening Round Of Playoffs

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NEWARK — Sometimes, one play can be indicative of an entire game. For Jackson, that play happened to be the first play of the game.

After a nice kickoff return set up the Ironmen at their own 35 to start the game, 1st down saw the shotgun snap sail over Jared Icenhower’s head. The junior quarterback was able to get to the ball and fall on it, but it went for a loss of 19.

In the end, that play would sum up a night where the Jackson offense would be ineffective at breaking through a strong Granville defense as the 7-seed Ironmen (7-4) fell to the 2-seed Blue Aces (10-1) 38-7.

After forcing Jackson to punt on their opening possession, the Blue Aces responded with a scoring drive that set the tone for the game.

Granville drove 91 yards in 13 plays, burning six minutes of the first quarter clock. Senior Cameron Crouch pounded the ball in from three yards out to give the Blue Aces a 7-0 lead with 3:43 to play in the first.

The Ironmen were able to muster a first down on their ensuing possession but had to punt the ball back to Granville three plays later.

The Blue Aces didn’t need a long, grueling drive to score this time. They needed just four plays and 60 seconds to find the end zone again. This time, it was through the air on a play that caught the Jackson defense off guard.

Lined up in a jumbo package, Crouch faked a handoff and lobbed a pass over the middle to a wide-open Dominic Varrasso for the 53-yard score.

Things went from bad to worse for Jackson on the ensuing kickoff when a hard hit caused Jayden Spires to cough up the ball. Granville fell on the ball and took over deep in Ironmen territory.

With their backs against the wall, the Jackson defense stood strong and kept the Blue Aces out of the end zone. Granville was able to convert their 32-yard field goal to extend their lead to 17-0 with 8:26 to play in the first half.

Knowing that the game could get out of hand, the Jackson offense finally put together a scoring drive.

Icenhower found Brody Landrum over the middle on 4th and goal to cap off an epic 18-play drive that took over eight minutes and brought the Ironmen back within 10, 17-7, going into the half.

Jackson converted on fourth down three times on the drive.

On the opening drive of the first half, Granville put the game on ice with another touchdown. This time an 11-yard score for Varrasso on a reverse that gave the Blue Aces a 24-7 lead early in the third.

Crouch would throw two more touchdowns, one to Keegan Van Meter and another to Zach Walsh to bring the game to its final score of 38-7.

Crouch finished the game with 195 yards through the air and 68 yards on the ground with four combined touchdowns.

Jackson managed just 155 total yards in the game, half of which came on their lone scoring drive.

The 2018 Ironmen captured their first ever FAC championship and, with a good number of returning players, are poised to make a return trip to week 11 play in 2019.