MARIETTA – The Trojans and Tigers both have had seasons that neither team expected, and past the halfway point of the season, both of the teams decided to try something different.
For the Trojans, their change paid off as they went away from their normal shotgun spread offense mixed with draws and reads and took it under center and went back to old smashmouth football.
The Trojans used a steady dose of Andrew Gulley, who had 23 carries for 151 yards, mixed with Jon Royster (12 carries for 60) in the second half to control the clock and wear out the Tiger defense en route to a 28-13 win.
"Andrew is a stud and has become our go to guy," said Portsmouth Coach Curt Clifford. "He really took over the second half and got some great blocking by his line and backfield partners."
The Trojans used a variety of substitutions from swapping size at the tight end spot to using a freshman, Johnnie Charles, in the backfield.
"Johnnie Charles came in and sprung two big runs for Andrew in the second half, and you will definitely hear more from Johnnie Charles in the future," Clifford said.
Charles wasn't the only freshman who saw time in the game as Marietta freshman Anthony Kimbrough made his first varsity start.
However, Kimbrough's start will be something he might try to forget as the Trojan defense picked off his only pass and shot through the line numerous times forcing him to hand the ball off or pitch it.
"Coach said if we came focused and played our positions instead of biting on the different fakes the wing T does we would have a big game and get the win," senior Tre Underwood said.
Play their positions and tackle well is what they did as the Trojans held a run dominant Marietta offense to a total of 137 yards on the ground and 177 total yards on the night.
"I think that speaks of the focus our defense brought tonight. (Marietta) has some skill players with speed and once they get the edge they can beat you" Clifford said, "But our guys stayed in their spots and really stepped up tonight even though our offense had some turnovers that put them behind the 8-ball."
The Trojans were in a battle and Marietta looked to take a huge momentum shift in the beginning of the fourth after a half back pass for 30 yards brought the score to 14-13 but Underwood crashed through the middle and got a hand on it, blocking the extra point.
After the score Marietta got an onside kick but the defense stepped up and forced a turnover on downs. From there Gulley carried the load.
"The offensive line played a great game tonight and really opened some huge holes for me" said Gulley. "I also got some great blocks from Jon (Royster) and Johnnie (Charles)."
Marietta would get the ball back two more times but the defense shut them down and the Trojans milked the clock and scored once more on a one-yard dive by QB Mason Jordan with 46 seconds left to finish the game. Jordan's score was setup by a 32 yard pass to Wayne Evans on fourth and eight. Jordan had a very efficient night throwing the ball, going 6-for-10 for 126 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.
Portsmouth 0 7 7 14 – 28
Marietta 0 7 0 6 – 13
P – Evans from Jordan 32 yards (Newton Kick)
M – Baker 44 yard run (Morrison Kick)
P – Evans from Jordan 17 yards (Newton Kick)
C – McKitrick from Wynn 30 yards (Kick Blocked)
P – Royster 7 yard run (Newton Kick)
C – Jordan 1 yard run (Newton Kick)
RUSHING: Portsmouth — Gulley 23-151, Royster 12-60, Jordan 5-(-6), Adams 1-(-1). Marietta — Gearhart 11-29, Wynn 9-45, Baker 11-72, McKitrick 5-1.
PASSING: Portsmouth— Jordan 6-10-1 126. Marietta: Kimbrough 0-1-1 0, Wynn 1-2-1 30.
RECEIVING: Portsmouth — Evans 3-81, Simpson 1-7, Royster 1-13, Staker 1-25. Marietta — McKitrick 1-30.
Records — Portsmouth 3-4 (2-2); Marietta 2-5 (0-4)