PORTSMOUTH — The Portsmouth Trojans (2-2) never trailed during Friday night’s Ohio Valley Conference opener versus Rock Hill — defeating the visiting Redmen 35-21 to secure their first win of the season on the Trojan Coliseum grounds.
The victory over Rock Hill (2-2) gave the Portsmouth program its’ sixth-straight win in the series — a streak that began with the Trojans’ 33-32 win over the Redmen in 2016.
Portsmouth elected to receive the ball at the opening coin toss to give its offense the chance to score early.
Sophomore J.T, Williams returned the opening kick nearly into the Redmen red zone for 58 yards, putting their offense in prime position on the game’s first series.
Four plays later, Portsmouth senior quarterback Tyler Duncan connected with senior Nolan Heiland for their first of two scoring plays.
Heiland caught a five-yard touchdown which put the Trojans ahead 7-0 at the 10:16 mark of the first quarter, following Zach Roth’s made extra-point.
Rock Hill evened things up with a nine-play, 68-yard drive capped by a quarterback sneak touchdown by senior Brayden Adams at the 4:08 mark of the first.
Each of Portsmouth’s next two offensive series’ saw Trojan touchdowns — one on the ground and the other through the air.
Duncan ran into the north end zone from 13 yards out on their second series, putting the Trojans ahead 14-7 with 1:06 left in the first.
Duncan finished with 69 yards on the ground on nine carries.
A 30-yard run — the longest rush of the game by either team — helped put Portsmouth deep into Redmen territory.
“I thought our guys in the box did a great job. As opponents get more and more film, teams are dropping eight guys into pass coverage. Tyler Duncan’s ability to run the ball was a big difference,” Portsmouth coach Bruce Kalb said, following the win. “Everyone’s going to remember the big passes, but when we needed first downs and yards to keep drives going, it was his legs that did that. Really proud of his instincts to pull the ball to get those yards that helped us win tonight.”
The Trojans needed just one play to score on their third offensive series of the first half.
Heiland caught a 41-yard pass from Duncan for a touchdown, sprinting up the east sideline past a Rock Hill defender and into the end zone where Duncan’s pass met him.
Portsmouth led 21-7 with 5:59 to play until half when Rock Hill sophomore Zach O’Bryant batted a Duncan pass into the air and returned it 46 yards into the Redmen end zone — pulling his team within 21-14.
On the first drive after half, Rock Hill put together a 13-play, 64-yard drive that eventually tied the game.
Facing a fourth-and-goal from the four-yard line, Adams found Levi Jiles on a jump-pass in the end zone to knot the score at 21-21 — with 4:45 left in the third period.
Duncan and the Trojans continued their aerial assault on their first two possessions of the second half.
On the sixth play of their first drive in the third, Duncan connected with his cousin, senior Jayden Duncan, for a 24-yard touchdown to push Portsmouth ahead 28-21.
Duncan’s leaping grab in the southeast corner of the end zone came at the 1:20 mark in the third quarter, and gave the Trojans a lead they wouldn’t look back from.
After Rock Hill had a turnover on downs, Portsmouth again found the end zone.
Sophomore receiver Devon Lattimore caught his lone pass of the night — a 38-yard reception from Duncan to put the Trojans in front 35-21 with 7:29 to go in the game.
While the offense was responsible for five touchdowns, the Portsmouth defense surrendered just two touchdowns — both on Rock Hill’s first offensive series’ of each half.
In total, the stingy Trojan defense allowed the Redmen just 75 yards on 39 rushing attempts.
“The focus this week was putting ourselves in the right position to win those 1-on-1 battles, especially at the line of scrimmage. I thought our defensive line did a great job,” Kalb said. “Overall, our defense really stood the test. What they do, they’re good at. We were able to hold them in check.”
Portsmouth will host Gallia Academy in week five, as it looks to remain unbeaten against OVC foes.
The undefeated Blue Devils (4-0) were 42-7 victors over Chesapeake in their OVC opener on Friday.
“We know we’re going to be in for a tough game. Gallia and us is always a tough battle — we haven’t played in a couple of years due to COVID,” Kalb said. “We’re looking forward to resuming that. I know they’ve had some pretty impressive wins so far this season. After last week’s game and gutting one out tonight, I think these kids know what we’re capable of, we just have to go out and execute.”
Rock Hill 7 7 7 0 — 21
Portsmouth 14 7 7 7 — 35
|Team Stats||Rock Hill||Portsmouth|
|Yards (Pass-Rush)||207 (132-75)||275 (165-110)|
|Penalties||9 for 79 yards||7 for 67 yards|
|Time of Possession||29:44||18:16|
P — Nolan Heiland, 5-yard pass from Tyler Duncan (Zach Roth PAT good); 10:16 1Q 7-0 P
RH — Brayden Adams, 1-yard run (Hazley Matthews PAT good); 4:08 1Q 7-7 tie
P — Tyler Duncan, 13-yard run (Zach Roth PAT good); 1:05 1Q 14-7 P
P — Nolan Heiland, 41-yard pass from Tyler Duncan (Zach Roth PAT good); 11:06 2Q 21-7 P
RH — Zach O’Bryant, 46-yard interception return (Hazley Matthews PAT good); 5:59 2Q 21-14 P
RH — Levi Jiles, 4-yard pass from Brayden Adams (Hazley Matthews PAT good); 4:45 3Q 21-21 tie
P — Jayden Duncan, 24-yard pass from Tyler Duncan (Zach Roth PAT good); 1:20 3Q 28-21 P
P — Devon Lattimore, 38-yard pass from Tyler Duncan (Zach Roth PAT good); 7:34 3Q 35-21 P
Passing: Brayden Adams (RH) 8/16 132 TD; Tyler Duncan (P) 14/24 165 yards 4TD, INT
Rushing: Kordell French (RH) 7-28, Levi Jiles (RH) 6-21, Chase Delong (RH) 10-11, Brayden Adams 6-(-6) TD; Tyler Duncan (P) 9-69 TD, Beau Hammond (P) 9-42, Nolan Heiland (P) 1-(-1)
Receiving: Kordell French (RH) 3-77, Chanz Pancake (RH) 2-23, Chase Delong (RH) 1-13, Zach O’Bryant (RH) 1-9 Levi Jiles 1-4 TD; Devon Lattimore (P) 1-38 TD, Jayden Duncan (P) 4-50 TD, Nolan Heiland (P) 6-81 2TD, Reade Pendleton (P) 2-16
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 370-0713 ext. 1930, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved