The Portsmouth West Senators defeated the Dawson Bryant Hornets by a final score of 21-14 in a game that will not soon be forgotten.
The Senators were looking to stay undefeated on the season heading into the night’s matchup as they were set to play the defending OVC Champion, the Dawson Bryant Hornets. The game was shaping up to be a defensive fight as both offenses failed to gain any momentum. After forcing an opening drive punt, the Hornets offense, led by senior quarterback Nate Harmon, drove the ball into Senators territory.
But in what would prove to be a theme of the first half, the Senators defense stepped up and made plays when it counted. Senior cornerback Joey Cyrus had a huge impact for the Senators in the first half as he broke up a touchdown pass that seemed as if it was destined for a score. Senators head coach Ben Johnson knew the Hornets looked to throw all night on Cyrus’ side of the field, but the senior stepped up and made big plays when they were needed. “He’s done an outstanding job, in that first half they were really trying to test him, and he stepped up to the challenge and made a huge play.” Not to be out done by his fellow upperclassman, senior linebacker Gabe Skaggs came up with a fumble recovery as the Hornets were looking to move the ball in for a score.
Every time they were forced into tough field position, the Senators defense stepped up and make a big play to stifle any momentum by the Hornets offense. Coach Johnson was proud of the grit and determination his defense showed whenever they were tested. “It’s easy to be a great leader when things are going well, but how do you respond when things you’re down and backed into a corner? The experience these guys have had and the work they have put in gives them the confidence to keep playing hard no matter what the circumstances are.” The game remained scoreless going into halftime. During halftime was when this otherwise tough matchup between two excellent teams turned into a game that most people in attendance wouldn’t soon forget. An initial 30 minute lightning delay turned into a three hour delay as both teams and officials waited for the storm to safely pass over the area. Coaches on both sides were determined to get the game in Friday night. “There were lots of storms and lightning in the area” said Johnson, “It never really felt like the storms were here, but you could still see them off in the distance and the rule is anytime there is thunder or lightning there is a thirty minute delay. We just kept looking at the radar and it looked like it was going to clear if we were patient enough and it got to the point where we waited long enough so we might as well just wait it out, that was ultimately the decision and I’m glad we got it in and got the win.” As the clock slowly ticked toward midnight, both teams took the field to resume the second half. Coach Johnson knew his team needed little motivation to get back into the game, “The longer they waited, the more excited they got. Our kids were chomping at the bit to get back out there. We had gone over adjustments and things during the initial halftime. Once we finally gave them the word that we were going to finish the game, they were pumped up and ready to go.”
With the game restarted, the second half would be a complete opposite game from the first half. Both offenses started moving the ball down the field as they traded one big play after another. Hornets quarterback Nate Harmon would score the games first points with a thirteen yard touchdown run on the opening drive of the second half. But just like the defense in the first half, the Senators offense would answer right back with a huge 65 yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Dylan Bradford to senior Josh Berry on their very next offensive play. “After they had come out and got the score on us to take the lead, to just bounce right back immediately and get that score was huge,” said Coach Johnson. The score was again tied heading into the final quarter at 7-7.
As the fourth quarter began, the Hornets looked to retake the lead on a long opening quarter drive. With the Hornets deep into Senators territory and threatening to score, the Senators defense would again come up with a huge stop as junior lineman Joe Igaz recovered a fumble on the twenty yard line for West.
This turnover would lead to a huge drive by the Senators, capped off by a 21 yard touchdown run by senior running back Garret Hurd. After a missed extra point, the Senators had their first lead of the game at 13-7.
The Hornets would answer right back with a 59 yard touchdown run, giving them the lead heading into the final minutes, 14-13. Johnson had faith in his team to rise to the occasion again and finish the game, “Our guys have that ability to find a way to dig down and get it done no matter what kind of game it is. I think you can attribute that to our experience that our seniors have had. Many of them have played three years of varsity football. They’ve been in so many different types of games, no matter what the situation is they just go out and play.”
The Senators would answer back with a 50 yard drive again capped off with a touchdown run by Garrett Hurd. Hurd’s second half performance would prove to be the difference maker for West as he rushed for 156 yards and two huge second half scores. With enough time on the clock, the Hornets were driving down the field when for the final time on the night, West’s defense stepped up when Bradford picked off a pass to give the Senators the win, 21-14 in the marathon game that lasted nearly five and a half hours.
The Senators will be home once again in week four to host the Wellston Golden Rockets with kickoff slated for 7 p.m.
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT