PORTSMOUTH — In spectacular fashion, the Portsmouth Trojans came back from an 18-point deficit to defeat the Rock Hill Redmen Friday evening, 33-32 at the Trojan Coliseum in Portsmouth, Ohio.
Trailing 32-14 with 10:49 left in the third quarter, the Trojans came back to score 19 unanswered points against a wavering Rock Hill defense in the final 13:11 of regulation play.
“Hats off to Rock Hill’s kids. They played hard and got a lead, but even more hats off to my kids as they responded coming out of halftime,” Portsmouth football coach Aaron Duncan said.
The second half didn’t start off great for Portsmouth, as Rock Hill marched 62-yards down the field to take a 32-14 lead early in the third quarter. However, from there, Rock Hill would never reach the endzone as the Trojans stifled their offensive production for the remainder of the game, while finding their footing on offense.
“We inserted Austin Lansing into the game at running back and that seemed to give us a spark,” Duncan said.
Lansing gained 68 yards in the second half off nine carries, creating big plays for the Trojans in the final half of the game.
Overcoming was the key to Portsmouth’s one-point victory over Rock Hill.
On the game’s first drive, the Trojans were moving the ball down the field with success until it all came to a crashing end when Rock Hill’s Tim Adkins picked off Portsmouth quarterback Luke Purdy for an 85-yd interception returned for a touchdown.
Portsmouth would answer though, as Luke Purdy got the Trojans on the scoreboard with a 7-yard touchdown run to tie the game.
Rock Hill added three more scores in the first half while Portsmouth would only score once more, giving the Redmen a 26-14 lead.
In the third Rock Hill scored on the quarter’s opening drive to take an 18-point lead, but Portsmouth refused to quit.
Portsmouth running back Talyn Parker started the Trojan rally late in the third quarter with a one-yard score, with only 2:15 remaining in the quarter.
The Trojan defense then forced a punt, which paid off for Portsmouth when Purdy found Ryan Williams for a 35-yard scoring pass with just over seven minutes left in the game, cutting the Redmen’s lead to only five points, 32-27.
Two plays into the Rock Hill drive, Portsmouth forced a fumble and recovered the ball on the Redmen’s eight yard line.
The fumble then set up another Portsmouth touchdown, when Purdy found Parker wide-open in the left side of the endzone.
After a failed two-point conversion, the Trojans held the tiniest of leads, a single point, 33-32 with 5:12 remaining in the game.
From there, the Portsmouth defense played lights out football.
The Trojans forced another fumble, this time recovered on the Rock Hill 44-yard line.
Despite getting the ball back, Portsmouth was unable to score again and was forced to punt the ball back to Rock Hill, but the defense was ready to take on the responsibility of stopping Rock Hill one more time.
Starting on their 20-yard line, Rock Hill was overwhelmed by the Portsmouth defense. A tackle for a loss and several incomplete passes, along with a penalty spelled doom for the Redmen, as the Portsmouth defense held off another Rock Hill attack to secure a 33-32 conference win over the Redmen.
“These kids are resilient and I knew that they would bounce back from the Wheelersburg loss and focus on Rock Hill,” Duncan said after the win. “This is a huge win for our program.”
While many considered the win an upset for Portsmouth, Duncan said he never doubted his team could get the win Friday night.
“I never doubted,” Duncan said with a smile. “I believe in these kids over here from Portsmouth High School. It’s a different mentality and they did exactly what I asked them to do.”
The Trojans improve to 3-1 overall and 1-0 in the OVC.
“This win was so important, now our kids have conference championship hopes,” Duncan said. “It’s a big computer point game. Rock Hill is going to win a lot of games.”
Portsmouth will host Gallia next Friday, September 23, 2016 at the Trojan Coliseum in Portsmouth, Ohio.
Rock Hill – Tim Adkins 85-yd interception 7:08 (PAT good)
Portsmouth – Luke Purdy 7-yd run 5:33 (PAT good)
Rock Hill – Brady Knipp 3-yd run 2:36 (PAT good)
Rock Hill – Brady Knipp 15-yd run 8:32 (2-pt conv failed)
Portsmouth – Luke Purdy 20-yd run 5:04 (PAT good)
Rock Hill – Mason Darby 1-yd run 1:35 (PAT no good)
Rock Hill – Logan Hankins 46-yd run 10:49 (2-pt conv failed)
Portsmouth – Talyn Parker 1-yd run 2:15 (PAT no good)
Portsmouth – Ryan Williams 35-yd pass from Luke Purdy 7:07 (PAT good)
Portsmouth – Talyn Parker 7-yd pass from Luke Purdy 5:12 (2-pt conv no good)
Reach Michael Hamilton at 740-353-3101, ext. 1931, or on Twitter @MikeHamilton82.