West side 2nd-half surge


West junior running back Mason Parker (2) looks to avoid the tackle of Portsmouth senior linebacker Noah Livingston (28) during Friday night’s non-league football game at West High School.

Courtesy of Joey Shupert

WEST PORTSMOUTH — No doubt, an early evening rainfall cooled off projected heat-seeking temperatures for Friday night.

However, in the second half of its annual non-league rivalry bout against the Portsmouth Trojans, West was the one still cranking up the heat.

That’s because the host Senators scored the game’s final 24 points over a span of 15 minutes and 28 seconds, as junior running back Mason Parker posted a hat trick of touchdown runs —with West winning the traditional week-2 tilt 31-14 at The Rock.

It was a big-time bounce-back victory for the Senators, which were stunned on the final play in the season opener against visiting Fairland —a Peyton Jackson 15-yard touchdown run on a 4th-and-5 scramble that resulted in the Dragons escaping 32-29.

Speaking of bouncing back, the Senators fell behind to the Trojans 14-7 —almost midway through the third quarter.

But from there, West seized advantage of a pair of Portsmouth punt mistakes —one on a fumbled return and the other on a poor punt directly into the back of a Trojan upback.

The Senators turned two Trojan three-and-out possessions into touchdowns —and took the lead for good for the final 13 minutes and 38 seconds.

Another Portsmouth punt following an eight-play possession gave the ball back to the Senators again, and Parker put the game into two-touchdown territory —with his third run to the end zone and second of at least 44 yards.

Finally, two plays later, a Trojan call which was ruled a backwards lateral resulted in an 18-yard loss —all the way to the 10-yard-line in fact —but best for West was Parker recovering the lost PHS fumble.

West senior placekicker Jack Holbrook then successfully drilled a 21-yard field goal for the 31-14 advantage midway through the fourth, giving him five total points —and putting the game on ice in the process.

But, truth be told, it was the Senators bringing the heat —and becoming the first home team in this series since 2017 to indeed win on its friendly turf surface.

The road squad had won all five meetings between 2018 thru 2022 —including two years ago, when West’s “home” game against PHS was actually played at Northwest.

Incidentally, the final score in that most recent West home win you ask?

It was for a fact 32-14, as Holbrook had his third extra-point attempt for Friday night get blocked.

Over the final 19 minutes, though, that was about the Senators’ only miscue.

West third-year head coach Todd Gilliland said the hot-weather week was about forgetting Fairland, and playing Portsmouth.

Gilliland has been a part of the PHS-West rivalry for nine years now, having served as the Senators’ offensive coordinator under former head coach Ben Johnson.

West senior Hayden Lore (7) celebrates while Portsmouth junior Landen Boren (54) displays disbelief as the host Senators defeated the Trojans 31-14 on Friday night in a non-league football game.

Courtesy of Joey Shupert

“Last week, after that game, we said we had tonight (Friday, Aug. 18) to pout and sulk. But Saturday (Aug. 19) morning, it was back to business. We talked about cleaning up our mistakes, and moving on from the past because that game is over with. The guys did a really good job this past week of doing that,” he said. “It was a challenging week with the heat, to get good practices in. Throw that on top of last week with the way we lost. It made for a hard week, but our guys stayed focused. They stuck to the gameplan. At halftime tonight, we didn’t come in and scream and holler at them (players). We just talked and made adjustments to what we needed to fix, and our guys in the second half just stepped up and made the plays that we needed to.”

It all began following the Trojans’ second touchdown — a 45-yard dash to the house by freshman quarterback Camron Williams.

Up until then, the Senators had run just 21 plays — as their first two first-quarter drives saw them take possession at the Portsmouth 8 and 12-yard lines respectively, only to be stopped at the goal line on the first followed by a blocked field goal on the second.

The Senators’ fourth series was a three-and-out, they ran two plays near midfield to end the half, and went three-and-out again on the first two possessions of the third frame.

It was on that second third-stanza series, though, that West punted the football to the Trojans —but the return man mishandled it at the 30-yard line, fumbled it backwards, and West recovered right at the 15.

Both coaches agreed that failed Trojan return was a tide-turner, as Portsmouth actually fumbled six times —losing half of them.

“Portsmouth made some mistakes early on that we didn’t capitalize on, but once we got that momentum rolling with that play, we did take advantage and not throw away those opportunities,” said Gilliland. “Once we got rolling, started scoring, that limited what they could do offensively.”

This season’s Trojans are indeed run-heavy, but have been one-dimensional through their first two games.

“That was a big momentum shift right there. That helped breath a lot of life into West,” said sixth-year Portsmouth head coach Bruce Kalb. “We were up 14-7, headed in the direction we wanted, then just shot ourselves in the foot. We let them capture momentum and they ran with it. We found ourselves playing from behind, which is not the best position for us to be in.”

While West didn’t score after the fumbled punt, and committed its only turnover in fact by fumbling three plays later, it did flip the field on Portsmouth —which punted following a three-and-out.

Three plays later, and with three-and-a-half minutes remaining in the third, Parker blasted up the middle —and sprinted 45 yards to paydirt.

Holbrook hit his second extra-point kick, tied the game at 14-14, and set the Trojans up for an equally inopportune outcome on another punt.

Portsmouth punted from its own 15, but Williams’ punt appeared to hit one of the blocking up-men smack dab in the back.

The Senators fell on the pigskin at the 8-yard line, and scored a play later when Parker went in again.

Thus, in a matter of a minute and 50 seconds, West was ahead 20-14 —as the third quarter came to a close.

However, West —and in particular Parker —wasn’t finished.

The Trojans drove seven plays from their own 20 to their own 38, but a poor punt — which covered only 15 yards — set the Senators’ shop up at the PHS 47.

Jeffery Bishop ran an end-around for nine yards into Trojan territory, then Parker pulled off his third touchdown jaunt —and his best run of the entire night.

Parker ran right, reversed course, cut back to the left, broke a tackle, and scampered 44 yards to double the lead with nine-and-a-half minutes remaining —with his own two-point conversion run.

Gilliland gave Parker credit individually, along with the collective effort of the Senators up front —on both sides of the football.

Parker posted 138 yards and his hat trick of TDs on 16 carries, as West rushed for 195 yards on 36 attempts.

“Mason really stepped up for us and had big runs on key opportunities,” said the coach.

Five different Senator ballcarriers had at least one touch for at least 10 yards.

“As the game went along, our guys made some blocking adjustments and technique adjustments, started playing very well, and I thought our conditioning helped out,” said Gilliland. “Portsmouth came out and played physical, and maybe our guys weren’t quite ready for how physical they were going to be. But you could feel every drive, every drive, every drive, we were picking up steam. Midway through the third quarter, something just clicked and kicked in and we just got off the ball better and made good blocks. We started playing physical on both sides, getting to tackles better, and finishing tackles. Getting to (Chase) Heiland and (Camron) Williams where we needed to get to them, not allowing them to get loose where we have to make a one-on-one tackle in the open. We gang-tackled, got a lot of hats to the ball, those few adjustments were kind of the difference.”

West senior Jakob Tipton (26), senior Cole Windsor (33) and junior Mason Parker (2) converge to tackle Portsmouth running back Chase Heiland (2) in the second half of Friday night’s non-league football game.

Courtesy of Joey Shupert

The Trojans tallied 144 rushing yards on 56 attempts —as Williams and junior running back Chase Heiland had 23 carries apiece, with Heiland hitting for 91 yards and Williams 53.

“We knew it was going to be a hard-fought game. Hats off to West and their staff for a good gameplan and making good halftime adjustments. We knew we were in for a physical, 48-minute four-quarter battle,” said Kalb. “It just got away from us at the end.”

Neither team threw much, as both quarterbacks completed two passes apiece —including West senior Cole Tipton twice to Bishop for 51 yards.

Bishop rushed six times for 18 yards and Tipton 10 for 17, as the two teams exchanged first-half touchdowns —for ultimately an 8-7 Portsmouth advantage at halftime.

West senior quarterback Cole Tipton (13) dives for the end zone and a late first-quarter touchdown during the Senators’ non-league football game against visiting Portsmouth on Friday night.

Courtesy of Joey Shupert

The Senators scored first with a four first-down, six-play, 68-yard drive that consumed three minutes and two tics off the first-quarter clock —capped by Tipton taking it in on a keeper to the left from seven yards out.

But the Trojans immediately answered, marching 13 plays and 70 yards with four first downs and devouring five minutes and 42 seconds of game time.

With five-and-a-half minutes to play in the second quarter, and on 4th-and-2 at the West 11-yard line, Portsmouth went for it —and Heiland had an 11-yard run into the end zone.

Portsmouth junior Chase Heiland (2) looks for running room during the Trojans’ non-league football game at West on Friday night.

Courtesy of Joey Shupert

The Trojans took the 8-7 lead when Williams completed the two-point conversion pass to Trevin Brooks.

But Portsmouth beset itself with three lost fumbles, and costly special teams performances.

The Trojans return home, and return to non-league action, on Friday night against Greenup County, Ky.

Like the Trojans, the Musketeers are 1-1 —as Kalb chalks up the West loss to another learning experience.

“I am proud of our team for battling, but we had a lot of self-imposed mistakes that you would like to avoid. But I know these young men and the seniors on this team will learn from those mistakes,” he said. “We talk about failure being part of success. I know these guys and I know this staff and we will pick up the pieces and we will work tirelessly to improve as we go into next week with Greenup County.”

Greenup is the equivalent to a Division III program in Ohio —as West will welcome a D-III non-conference club, likewise 1-1 Hillsboro, to The Rock for Friday night.

Gilliland hopes the final 15-and-a-half minutes against Portsmouth plays over — and into this week.

“Portsmouth is always a tough game. It’s always been since I’ve been around. You don’t expect anything less. It’s a big win for us, and hopefully it springboards us to next week with Hillsboro,” he said. “We just have to have another good week of practice and come ready to play.”

* * *

Portsmouth 0 8 6 0— 14

Ports. West 7 0 13 11— 31

W — Cole Tipton, 7-yard run (Jack Holbrook kick), :24, 1st (7-0 W)

P — Chase Heiland, 11-yard run (Trevin Brooks pass from Camron Williams), 5:29, 2nd (8-7 P)

P — Camron Williams, 45-yard run (kick failed), 8:26, 3rd (14-7 P)

W — Mason Parker, 45-yard run (Jack Holbrook kick), 3:28, 3rd (14-14 tie)

W — Mason Parker, 8-yard run (kick blocked), 1:38, 3rd (20-14 W)

W — Mason Parker, 44-yard run (Mason Parker run), 9:24, 4th (28-14 W)

W — Jack Holbrook, 21-yard field goal, 6:12, 4th (31-14 W)

Team Statistics


First downs 11 10

Scrimmage plays 61 39

Rushes-yards 56-144 36-193

Passing yards -2 51

Total yards 142 244

Cmp-Att-Int. 2-5-0 2-3-0

Fumbles-lost 6-3 5-1

Penalties-yards 2-15 4-36

Punts-Ave. 5-20 4-36.75


Individual Leaders

RUSHINGPortsmouth: Chase Heiland 23-91 TD, Camron Williams 23-53 TD, Nick Copley 5-17, Levaughn Cobb 2-14, Team 3-(-31); West: Mason Parker 16-138 3TD, Cole Tipton 10-17 TD, Jeffery Bishop 6-18, Hayden Lore 3-10, Anthony Bishop 1-10

PASSING Portsmouth: Camron Williams 2-5-0-(-2); West: Cole Tipton 2-3-0-51

RECEIVINGPortsmouth: Noah Livingston 1-(-1), Chase Heiland 1-(-1) ; West: Jeffery Bishop 2-51

Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at [email protected], or on X @paulboggssports © 2023 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved

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