The West Portsmouth Tanks continued its strong start to the 2017 season as West Portsmouth defeated the West Virginia Lightning, 32-18, in West Portsmouth, to move to 3-0 on the year.
West Portsmouth’s own Job Swords, who has been stellar from the quarterback position all season long, went 8-of-16 for 192 yards and two touchdowns on Saturday. His 86-yard touchdown pass to Jermaine Payton just five minutes and five seconds into the contest began the game’s scoring. Payton used that play to lead his team in receiving yardage as the Huntington, W. Va. native caught two passes for 139 yards.
West Virginia closed the deficit on a 40-yard field goal from Mick Fewell and a safety, but the Tanks opened the lead back up thanks to a 36-yard run by AJ Williams with 8:57 left in the second quarter of play. Deyartis Dudley’s 72-yard fumble return allowed the Lightning to close the gap to 14-11 at halftime, but with 10:03 remaining in the third quarter, West Portsmouth native Dale Swords turned the momentum in the Tanks’ favor for good with his 53-yard fumble recovery to put West Portsmouth up 20-11.
From there, Job Swords took the game over. His 10-yard touchdown pass to Michael Clay with 6:26 left in the third quarter, along with a 39-yard scamper to paydirt with 12:25 remaining in the contest, allowed the Tanks to move to 3-0 on the year.
Despite the offensive efforts that were displayed by the Tanks on Saturday evening, it was the defense who proved to be the difference maker as West Portsmouth came up big time after time. Five interceptions, including three critical picks by Ironton’s Chance Freeman, were vital in the Tanks’ ability to maintain control. Portsmouth’s Dion McKinley and Lexington, Ky.’s Toryan Whiting each collected a pick apiece, with Freeman and Whiting combining for five pass deflections. Freeman also added six tackles on the evening.
In addition to the efforts of the trio, Chris Hill led West Portsmouth with 10 tackles and a sack from his safety position. Dale Swords collected seven tackles, while Luke Brown, Richard Elery, Dominique Johnson, Johnny Rawlins, and Justin Staggs all collected at least five tackles on the evening. Brown added a pair of sacks to lead the club in that category.
After falling to Dayton despite an 88-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Portsmouth’s Darion Robinson and a 17-yard touchdown reception by Duke Edwards, Portsmouth responded in a big way against Carter County as the Stealth put a hurting on the Wildcats all game long in a 42-0 victory. A full recap of the Portsmouth-Carter County contest will be featured in the Daily Times as soon as a box score becomes available.
Both ballclubs will have a week off this coming Saturday before reconvening on June 3 to play each other at Spartan Stadium. Game time will start at 7 p.m.
Reach Kevin Colley at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930 OR on Twitter @ColleyKevin7