PDT Sports Writer
LUCASVILLE —Even with the graduation of an All-State tailback, Valley proved Saturday there should not be any issues with the running game.
The host Indians rushed for 391 yards against Portsmouth on its way to a 36-24 win over the Trojans. Valley’s Nate Arnett led the way with 192 yards on 20 carries and two touchdowns while the Indians capitalized on one of two Portsmouth turnovers in the first-ever meeting between the schools.
“We felt like coming in Nate Arnett was a very good running back,” Valley coach Darren Crabtree said. “He didn’t get a lot of touches last year due to Luke Keller getting the number of carries he did, but Will Howard got some big runs for us along with Brandon Jordan and I was real pleased with Brice Jordan and Matt Rawlins had some carries for some positive yards when we needed to give Nate and those guys a break.”
The Indians drew first blood on the initial drive of the game with an 8-yard run by Brandon Jordan but Ethan Clark-Holbrook’s kick missed to keep it 6-0. It was the last of a seven-play, 68-yard drive that included all runs.
“(Brandon) runs the trap very well,” Crabtree said. “He is slow enough that he runs the trap pretty well.”
A fumble on the second play of the Trojans’ first crack with the ball gave possession back to Valley. Jordan turned the turnover into points for the Indians when he barreled in from five yards and quarterback Will Howard’s rush made it 14-0 with 6:06 left in the first.
“Our defense was a rumor, I think that’s as kind as I could put it,” Portsmouth coach Curt Clifford said. “We did exactly the opposite of the things we are taught to do.”
His team had to play without the services of linebackers Bryan Sexton and Levi Hall. He called them the backbone of the defense.
“When you miss guys like that, we knew we were going to be in trouble,” Clifford said.
The Trojans cracked the scoring column in the second play of the second quarter when Johnie Charles capped off a nine-play, 63-yard march with a plunge from 2 yards out. Jacob Albrecht’s point after kick was blocked.
Howard’s attempt to gain extra yards deep in Portsmouth territory resulted in the first takeaway for the Trojans at their own nine. On his team’s ensuing drive, Charles’ attempt to make his second trip to pay dirt was foiled when the ball was punched away from him at the Valley two and Arnett recovered the ball in the end zone.
“That’s what happens when you’ve got inexperienced kids,” Clifford said. “I can’t fault their effort, they played as hard as they could play.”
Portsmouth found a way to shrink the lead on the first series of the second half when Brandon Wedebrook hooked up with Dorian Robinson a screen pass that led to an 82-yard touchdown strike. The Trojans missed the 2-point try and trailed 14-12.
“I thought we executed fairly well at times,” Clifford said. “The biggest thing that killed us on offense was turnovers.”
Another item that hurt Clifford’s squad was the point-after attempts. Portsmouth was 0-for-6 on conversion plays.
Arnett responded on the next time his team had possession, finishing the drive with a 20-yard dash to the endzone. Howard found Hayden Dunn for the 2-point conversion.
The Indians tried to strike again late in the third but Howard fumbled the ball while attempting a screen pass. Ethan Blackburn picked up the loose pigskin and ran 32 yards for the score with less than 25 seconds in the third to shorten the score to a 22-18 affair.
Valley regained its collective composure in the fourth when Arnett recorded his second score of the game with 8:14 to go. After Wedebrook and Robinson hooked up for a second touchdown toss, this a 47-yard play, Will Howard closed the scoring with an 11-yard scamper with 2:53 on the clock.
“He doesn’t have quite the speed Blake (Yates) does but he’s a lot bigger,” Crabtree said. “He was able to run through some arm tackles and put his shoulder down to pick up 3, 4 extra yards.”
Portsmouth recorded 253 yards in the air while the Indians were penalized seven times for 55 yards. Both stats were something Crabtree knows his team will have to fix before Friday’s trip to Rock Hill, who were beat 40-0 Friday night by Minford.
The road doesn’t get any easier for Clifford’s bunch as they travel to West. The Senators will enter the game coming off a 34-14 defeat at Fairland.
Valley takes possession of the Andy Hayden Memorial Trophy in the first-ever meeting between the schools. The trophy is in honor of the former Valley and Portsmouth student who was killed in a traffic accident last summer.
Cody Leist can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 242, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Portsmouth 0 6 12 6 — 24
Valley 14 0 8 14 — 36
V—Bra. Jordan 8 run (kick failed) 8:54
V—Bra. Jordan 5 run (Howard rush) 6:06
P—Charles 2 run (kick blocked) 11:18
P—Robinson 82 pass from Wedebrook (pass failed) 10:01
V—Arnett 20 run (Dunn pass from Howard) 5:48
P—Blackburn 32 fumble recovery (pass failed) :24.8
V—Arnett 1 run (Howard rush) 8:14
P—Robinson 47 pass from Wedebrook (pass failed) 5:11
V—Howard 11 run (rush failed) 2:53
First Downs 11 21
Rush Att.-Yards 25-70 54-391
Pass Att.-Comp.-Int. 16-12-0 6-3-0
Pass Yards 253 6
Total Yards 323 397
Penalties-Yards 4-20 7-55
Fumbles-Lost 3-2 2-2
Turnovers 2 2
Punts-Avg. 1-26.0 1-12.0
RUSHING: Portsmouth—Robinson 8-56, Charles 8-19, Kerns 1-4, Dickerson 2-(-10), Wedebrook 5-(-12); Valley—Arnett 20-192, Howard 17-93, Bra. Jordan 9-56, Bri. Jordan 6-40, Rawlins 2-18.
PASSING: Portsmouth—Wedebrook16-12-0-253; Valley—Howard 6-3-0-6.
RECEIVING: Portsmouth—Robinson 4-149, Dickerson 5-63, Albrecht 1-35, Lattimore 2-12; Valley Brown 18, Arnett 2-(-3).
RECORDS—Portsmouth 0-1; Valley 1-0.