Over the entire balance of the regular season to date, it has proven to be an extremely difficult task for opponents to slow down the runaway freight train that is the West Portsmouth Tanks.
The past two weekends have proven that in spades, with West Portsmouth not even needing a true quarterback to show off its skills against the Cincinnati Dukes and the Portsmouth Stealth in 28-12 and 53-18 victories over both units during the past two weekends.
West Portsmouth 28, Cincinnati 12
Thanks to the efforts of Otway’s Luke Brown, who filled in valiantly for Job Swords at the quarterback position back on July 8, the West Portsmouth Tanks were able to overcome a 6-0 halftime deficit, and, after tying the score on an interception return by Dominique Johnson, took the lead for good in the fourth quarter on a 33-yard touchdown pass from Brown to Michael Clay and a two-point conversion run from Dylan Koons after falling behind again late in the fourth quarter after falling behind again late in the contest to show off another skill —resiliency.
After falling behind by a 6-0 score at halftime behind a touchdown pass from Kimani Murry to former Marshall standout Stefone Grace, West Portsmouth looked to be in trouble until the third quarter, when Johnson turned things around with his 29-yard interception return for a touchdown that tied the score at six apiece heading into the fourth quarter of play.
And even after Murry found Cornelius Hicks for a 28-yard strike to put the Dukes back ahead with just 2:37 to play, West Portsmouth — and Brown, in particular — weren’t to be denied.
Brown, who collected 166 all-purpose yards on the day (86 passing, 80 rushing) willed his team to the finish line and, in just 31 seconds, collected the game-tying touchdown pass with his 33-yard bomb to Clay. Koons’ run gave West Portsmouth a lead that they’d never relinquish. A six-yard touchdown run by Dale Swords 30 seconds later, along with a 100-yard interception return by Richard Elery, iced the game in favor of the Tanks.
West Portsmouth’s defensive unit, which has been strong all season, was stellar against the Tanks as West Portsmouth forced Murry into three interceptions to help ignite the strong second-half performance.
West’s very own Swords, who had the six-yard touchdown run that helped sew up the win for West Portsmouth, also collected a team-high 10 tackles, along with three deflections and a quarterback hurry, to help lead the charge. Portsmouth’s Dion McKinley notched seven tackles, two sacks, and an astonishing six quarterback hurries while Justin Staggs added six tackles and Johnson added five additional stops along with his game-changing interception return.
West Portsmouth 53, Portsmouth 18
For a second straight week, the West Portsmouth Tanks started a different quarterback, and for a second straight week, the West Portsmouth Tanks proved to be more than resilient as the Tanks moved to 8-0 on the season with a 53-18 victory over the Portsmouth Stealth this past Saturday behind Snook Martin’s efforts as a signal-caller in addition to Antwan Williams’ running abilities and another stout defensive performance.
From the outset, Williams proved to be too much for the Stealth defense to handle. The Lexington, Ky. native, who ran for 104 yards and three touchdowns on eight carries, ran for a six-yard touchdown less than five minutes into the contest to start the scoring, and — along with Martin’s 62-yard touchdown pass to Koons — allowed West Portsmouth to take a 12-6 lead entering the halftime break.
However, it was Clay who would help to really get the Tanks off and running.
The gamebreaking playmaker, who is also from Lexington, took the second half kickoff 78 yards to paydirt, and, along with Williams — who ran for a 40-yard score just 1:03 later — increased the 12-6 lead to a 26-6 tally in the blink of an eye. Williams then added his third rushing touchdown of the contest with 7:08 left to play in the third quarter, and Jontez Jones — who ran for an 18-yard touchdown and caught a 10-yard touchdown pass — helped increase the West Portsmouth lead to 47-12. Chris Hill then added a 56-yard scoop-and-score to close out the Tanks’ scoring.
For the second contest in a row, McKinley proved to be untouchable defensively as the Portsmouth native collected a dozen tackles and three and a half sacks from his defensive end position. To top things off, McKinley also collected two quarterback hurries and a forced fumble to round out his excellent performance.
In addition to his fumble recovery, Hill added 10 tackles to join McKinley in the double-digit tackle column. Swords and Staggs each collected seven tackles apiece while Johnson and Chance Freeman added six tackles on their own, with Freeman and Conway Cooper each collecting a sack. Toryan Whiting collected an interception for the second game in a row to close out another successful weekend for the Tanks.
With the victory, West Portsmouth will turn its attention to a road bout against the West Virginia Lightning. The Tanks, who defeated the Lightning by a 32-18 tally on May 20, will play West Virginia at Calvert Field in East Bank, W. Va. Home contests with the Carter County (Ky.) Wildcats and the Butler County Broncos round out the regular season schedule for West Portsmouth.
Reach Kevin Colley at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930 OR on Twitter @ColleyKevin7