When a team starts a season out with a 1-2 overall record as far as Ohio high school football is concerned, the importance of obtaining a victory and getting back on the right track cannot be overstated.
On Friday evening, the Portsmouth Trojans’ football program showed to their own faithful that the message was received loud and clear as Portsmouth, after obtaining a 24-13 lead over the Rock Hill Redmen, survived a second-half Rock Hill rally and showed poise and grit in the final quarter, as evidenced when Isaac Kelly scored the eventual game-winning touchdown for Portsmouth with 3:44 remaining in an OVC bout to lift the Trojans to a 31-28 victory over the Redmen in the season-opening OVC contest for both squads in Pedro.
For much of the contest, the Trojans struggled to stop Rock Hill’s running attack, as evidenced by the Redmen’s 291 yards on 43 carries (6.8 average). However, Portsmouth held Rock Hill to minus-4 yards passing on the evening, recovered two fumbles en route to winning the turnover battle, and made other crucial plays throughout different portions of the affair to emerge victorious.
After obtaining a stop to start the affair, Portsmouth was able to drive inside the Rock Hill redzone before settling for a 27-yard field goal from Joel Bowling — a crucial kick that proved to be big in the overall outcome considering that the contest proved to be a seesaw battle throughout the remainder of the affair.
Zak Adkins’ 63-yard touchdown run gave Rock Hill a 7-3 lead at the 3:13 mark of the first quarter — a mark that would also hold to the end of the frame — but Portsmouth’s Daniel Jordan responded with the first of two huge fumble recoveries for the Trojans. Jordan, however, didn’t just recover the fumble — he took the pigskin 22 yards to paydirt to put Portsmouth up by a 10-7 tally. Isaac Kelly then answered another Adkins touchdown — a nine-yard scamper — with his 22-yard run to give Portsmouth a 17-13 lead with 1:46 left to play in the half — a margin that would hold to the halftime break.
Kelly, however, wasn’t done. The senior signal-caller, who collected 90 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries and added 95 more yards, along with another score, through the air on 6-of-9 passing, found Logan Carter for a seven-yard touchdown strike to put Portsmouth up by a 24-13 tally with 9:20 to play in the third quarter of action.
However, the lead wouldn’t hold up, as Rock Hill showed some spirited gumption of its own. Cameron Barnette showed the first signs of said gumption by gaining 38 yards on a run play, and adding a three-yard touchdown run to boot to cap off a critical six-play, 56-yard drive. Then, after a pick put Rock Hill at the Portsmouth 35, Adkins added his third touchdown run of the affair — a 12-yarder — to put the Redmen in front by a 28-24 tally.
But Portsmouth, once and for all, found a way to emerge with the lead.
After failing to score following a drive that put the Trojans on the Rock Hill 11, Portsmouth forced a Rock Hill fumble to emerge with the football at the Rock Hill 36. From there, Portsmouth methodically worked its way down the field before Kelly added the finishing touches on the affair by scoring on a seven-yard touchdown run with 3:44 to play in the contest.
In addition to Kelly’s efforts, Portsmouth collected 138 combined rushing yards on the ground from D.J. Pearsall and Reese Johnson, who collected 77 yards on 11 carries and 61 yards on 16 carries, respectively. Deante Parker added 55 yards receiving on three catches while Carter collected 50 more tallies on three catches, including the seven-yard touchdown reception.
With the victory, Portsmouth moves to 2-2 preceding another vital OVC matchup at Gallia Academy. The Blue Devils, who are 2-2 on the year, collected arguably the upset of the week by defeating fellow OVC member Chesapeake, 34-21.
Reach Kevin Colley at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930 OR on Twitter @ColleyKevin7