Saturday’s Battle for Portsmouth turned out to be a largely one-sided affair.
Running back Jontez Jones broke out for three rushing touchdowns, and quarterback Justin Lunsford added two through the air as the Warriors crushed cross-town rival Southern Ohio Spartans 41-6 on Saturday at Spartan Municipal Stadium.
It was all Warriors in the first 15 minutes of the game. The home team took the opening possession and marched right down the field on a seven-minute, 10-play drive capped off by a four-yard touchdown run by Jones.
The Warriors’ didn’t need to wait long for their next score. With the ball at their own 38-yard line, Jones found some space and outran the Spartan defense to the end zone. The 62-yard touchdown run gave Portsmouth a 14-0 lead with three minutes remaining in the first quarter.
But the Warriors would add another score before the quarter ended. After forcing a quick turnover, the Warriors took advantage. On the next play, Lunsford found Santonio Wilson for a 27-yard touchdown pass.
“We had a pretty good start,” Warriors’ head coach Jamie Rice said. “It really set the tone early. It turned the tide of the game pretty quick.”
Early in the second quarter, Lunsford found Wilson again, this time for a 76-yard touchdown pass. The two touchdowns represented half of Lunsford’s completions. He completed four of his 12 attempts for 119 yards.
Jones would add one more touchdown run in the fourth quarter when he broke free for a 30 yard touchdown scamper. He finished the game with 180 yards on 16 attempts and three scores. Fellow Warriors’ running back Luke Brown also found the end zone in the fourth, as he scored from 21 yards out with nine minutes remaining in the game. He finish 83 yards on 10 attempts.
All in all, the Warriors racked up nearly 400 yards of rushing offense in Saturday’s game.
“Our offensive line…I’ve never seen a better one,” Rice said. “We have eight guys (rotating), and they are extraordinary. I can’t say enough about those guys.”
Duke Edwards recorded the Spartans’ only score in the third quarter, when he took a screen pass 55 yards for a touchdown.
“We were coming on a blitz. It was the perfect play call,” Rice said.
Southern Ohio was able to find some success through the air, completing 11 of 28 attempts for 122 yards. However, the Spartans couldn’t find a way to run on the Warriors’ stout defense. Portsmouth limited the Spartans to -3 rushing yards on 15 attempts.
Leading the way on defense for the Warriors was linebacker Zach Swayne, who recorded five tackles and a sack. Swayne was filling in for regular linebacker Ben Donahue, who got married on Saturday afternoon.
Warrior receiver Mike Dawkins, who filled in for Snook Martin in the defensive backfield, had a big day with three tackles. Portsmouth native Mason Jordan also stepped up, recording an interception.
“Wherever we put him — wide receiver, corner, safety — he does a really good job,” Rice said.
Though the Spartans couldn’t pull out the win on Saturday, the women representing Southern Ohio came away with a victory during a Powder Puff charity game at halftime. The Spartan Women defeated the Warrior Women 18-12, and took donations afterwards to benefit the local Challenger Baseball League for disabled children.
The win only strengthened Portsmouth’s hold on first place in the Blue Collar Football League. They’ll also likely remain atop the AA East National Poll with an undefeated record of 6-0. They’ll have two bye weeks before a huge showdown with the second-place West Virginia Lightning on July 11.
At 3-2, the Spartans still remain very much alive in the playoff hunt. They’ll host the Zanesville Rivermonsters next Saturday at The Complex in West Portsmouth.
Reach Alex Hider at 740-353-3101 ext. 1931 or on Twitter @PDTSportsWriter