For the sixth time this year, the West Portsmouth Tanks faced a challenging opponent.
And for the sixth time in 2017, the West Portsmouth Tanks dispatched their opponent with a loss by at least 14 points or more, as West Portsmouth blitzed the Butler County Broncos by a 37-6 tally in a road bout that was held at Barnitz Stadium in Middletown on Saturday afternoon.
From the outset, West Portsmouth’s own Job Swords proved to be stout throughout the day as the 6-2, 195-pound quarterback — despite only attempting eight passes over the entire game — threw for 102 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Swords, who has completed 44 of his 81 passes for 1,062 yards and 17 touchdowns over the course of the 2017 campaign, collected both of his touchdown passes during the the first half of Sunday’s affair by throwing a 49-yard bomb to Michael Clay just 2:24 into the first quarter and adding a 41-yard strike to Jontez Jones with 10:24 to play in the opening half. A 41-yard jaunt by Antwan Williams — which was sandwiched in between the two Swords bombs — put the Tanks up by a 19-6 tally at halftime.
In the second half, Clay, along with the continued efforts of free safety Richard Elery, made the evening a long one for the Broncos, as the former — who finished with a team-high five receptions for 84 yards — returned the second half kickoff 86 yards to paydirt, while the latter collected his team-leading sixth interception of 2017 by taking a pick 60 yards to the house with just over six minutes to play in the third quarter. Snook Martin capped off the scoring with his two-yard touchdown run with 8:02 to play in the final quarter of action to lead the Tanks to victory.
In addition to the performances of Swords, Clay, and Elery, Williams helped West Portsmouth to victory by rushing for 109 yards on 14 carries. The Lexington, Ky. native has rushed for 451 yards on 44 carries — an average of 10.25 yards per carry — and eight touchdowns to lead the Tanks in all categories during the 2017 season. Clay, who has caught 13 passes for 386 yards en route to seven touchdown receptions and an astounding average of 29.7 yards per catch, leads West Portsmouth in all categories.
Defensively, the efforts of area natives Dale Swords (West Portsmouth) and Luke Brown (Otway) were tremendous on Friday evening, as the pair combined for nine tackles apiece, with Brown collecting three sacks and two quarterback hurries to rack up his best performance of the year to date. Hampton, Ga.’s Charles Johnson also added nine tackles to go along with two additional quarterback hurries from his cornerback position.
Lexington, Ky.’s Chris Hill — who has four interceptions this season — collected seven tackles, two pass deflections, two quarterback hurries, and a sack on the day, while West Portsmouth product Justin Staggs added six stops. Elery and Portsmouth’s own Dion McKinley obtained five tackles and a sack apiece, while Chance Freeman (four pass deflections), Chad Hudnall (four tackles, two quarterback hurries, one sack) and Anthony McDaniel (one sack) rounded out a strong effort.
West Portsmouth, who will have Independence Day weekend off from action, will return to the gridiron on Saturday, July 8 when the Tanks travel to Cincinnati Northwest High School to play the Cincinnati Dukes. West Portsmouth will return home the following week to play the Portsmouth Stealth. Kickoff is slated for 7:00 p.m. for both contests.
Reach Kevin Colley at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930 OR on Twitter @ColleyKevin7