PDT Sports Writer
At times this season Portsmouth football is energized for a half of a given game and give its fan base reasons for hope.
The second half of Friday night’s game against Jackson was the latest example as the host Trojans and Ironmen were dead even in scoring and the home team even won the turnover battle for the game.
“That’s been our Achilles heel all year,” Portsmouth coach Curt Clifford said. “We played one heck of a second half. We make our adjustments at halftime and the kids listened.”
The problem for the Trojans (1-7, 0-3) on this night was the fact they were coming out of the locker room in too big of a hole. Morgan Landrum scored three of his four rushing touchdowns in the first half and finished with 107 yards on 13 carries as visiting Jackson (5-3, 3-0) came away with a 35-7 SEOAL victory at the Coliseum.
“He’s a good back and he’s a big kid,” Clifford said. “You get 220 pounds and follow behind those big linemen, that’s tough.”
Landrum opened the scoring late in the first when he scored on a 5-yard plunge. The 11-play, 59-yard drive was highlighted by Steven Kearns 18-yard run.
The lead was built to 14-0 just 29 seconds into the second quarter when Landrum found pay dirt from 24 yards. His third trip to the end zone on the next series, this a 21-yard trek, made it 21-0 before Portsmouth had run an offensive play in Ironmen territory.
Derek Rafferty joined the scoring party three minutes later with a 56-yard dash, the second-straight scoring drive in which Jackson needed 1:04 to score.
“They were killing us on that counter trey play and we weren’t sealing off that C-gap,” Clifford said. “With our linebacker playing outside and not sealing the C-gap, we were just giving them yards.”
The Trojan offense finally crossed enemy lines for the first time in the contest with two minutes left in the half but were unable to go into the locker room in two separate drives with points. The first opportunity was sparked by a fake punt on 4th-and-5 from their own 37 when upback Isiaha Lisath threw to Sky Oliver for a gain of 11 yards.
Portsmouth punched in its only scoring drive of the night on its opening march of the second half. Brandon Wedebrook’s 18-yard hookup to Alex Dickerson less than two minutes into the third made it a 28-7 contest.
“They are playing their hearts out,” Clifford said of his team. “If these were laying down, it would be hard to come down here but they don’t lay down. They get up off that carpet, they go play, they fight and they throw their bodies around in there.”
The Trojans built on more momentum on the first play of the fourth when an Ironmen punt returner muffed Zach DeLotell’s punt and Khalil Lattimore fell on the ball at the Jackson 43.
“Here’s what you chalk that up to, hustle,” Clifford said. “Nothing more than old-fashioned hustle.”
The drive stalled when Wedebrook led Dickerson too far outside on a fourth down pass attempt. Jackson made sure to capitalize on its next drive as Landrum recorded the final tally of the night with a 14-yard scamper. For the game, the Ironmen rushed for 333 yards on 41 totes.
Wedebrook was 11-of-28 passing for 120 yards on the night. Johnie Charles was held to 100 yards on the ground as he rushed for 87 yards on 16 carries but did have a catch on a screen pass for 42 yards to set up the lone Portsmouth touchdown.
Clifford was pleased with the way Hunter Gibson, Alex Grashel and Jacob Albrecht all played in their returns from injury. He felt they were able to knock off some of the rust and allowed other players to move to their natural positions.
“Our kids that came back from injury really helped us tonight,” Clifford said.
The attention now turns to next weekend’s Senior Night as Warren comes into town. The Warriors (2-6, 0-3) fell 52-21 to Gallia Academy.
“It’s going to be a battle of attrition next week,” Clifford said. “It’s going to be who’s healthy and right now, we had nobody hurt tonight.”
Cody Leist can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 242, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jackson 7 21 0 7 — 35
Portsmouth 0 0 7 0 — 7
J — Landrum 5 run (Voiles kick) 4:14
J — Landrum 24 run (Voiles kick) 11:31
J — Landrum 21 run (Voiles kick) 8:23
J — Rafferty 56 run (Voiles kick) 5:17
P — Dickerson 18 pass from Wedebrook (DeLotell kick) 10:01
J — Landrum 14 run (Voiles kick) 2:40
First Downs 16 14
Rush Att.-Yds. 41-333 28-128
Pass Att.-Comp.-Int. 11-8-0 29-12-0
Pass Yds. 84 132
Total Yds. 417 260
Fumbles-Lost 2-1 1-0
Turnovers 1 0
Penalties-Yds. 8-65 8-50
Punts-Avg. 3-36.0 7-30.6
RUSHING: Jackson — Rafferty 10-116, Landrum 13-107, Griffiths 8-61, Kearns 9-46, Williams 1-3; Portsmouth — Charles 16-87, Wedebrook 7-31, Dickerson 4-10, Hollins 1-0.
PASSING: Jackson — Kearns 11-8-0 84; Portsmouth — Wedebrook 28-11-0 120, Lisath 1-1-0 12.
RECEIVING: Jackson — Landrum 2-27, Griffiths 2-26, Brown 1-13, Johnson 1-8, Rafferty 1-8, McCorkle 1-2; Portsmouth — Charles 4-65, Dickerson 7-55, Oliver 1-12.
RECORDS: Jackson 5-3 (3-0); Portsmouth 1-7 (0-3).