WEST PORTSMOUTH — Mitchell Irwin tossed two touchdowns and ran for another as Portsmouth West overcame a slow offensive start to defeat Notre Dame 28-7 at ‘The Rock’ in West Portsmouth on Friday night to open the 2020 high school football season.
Both teams showed the typical signs of squads entering their first games of the season — with penalties and turnovers plaguing the game.
When West (1-0) needed a boost, however, it was Irwin who proved to be an effective game manager at quarterback.
The sophomore, who started the final two games of Portsmouth West’s 2019 campaign, said he was nervous coming into the contest.
Ultimately, he was effective throwing the ball, by completing 8-of-12 pass attempts for 86 yards and two touchdowns.
He was intercepted just once.
The Titans (0-1) scored on their first play from scrimmage, a Noland Hiland 58-yard touchdown run, that put the visitors up 7-0 at just the 11:32 mark of the first quarter.
Notre Dame’s defense then withstood the first attempt by West to crack the scoreboard.
On its first possession, West used its running game, powered by senior tailback Hunter Brown, to get inside the Notre Dame 10-yard-line.
Over the next three plays, West managed to grind its way to the Titans’ 1-yard line, but the drive stalled with an illegal procedure penalty on fourth down.
A missed field goal left the home team off the scoreboard — and it never got another chance until the second quarter.
Meanwhile, Portsmouth West’s defense adjusted its scheme and shut out the Titans through the rest of the contest.
It held the visitors to only two first downs the entire game.
In the second quarter, West’s QB began to find soft spots in the ND defensive backfield.
Irwin first found fellow sophomore Ryan Sissel on a 34-yard scoring pass that tied the game — following Caleb Hazelbaker’s first of four-made PATs with 8:15 remaining the second quarter.
Then, with 1:08 to play in the half, Cole Tipton caught an Irwin pass in the Notre Dame secondary, juking past would-be tacklers for a 28-yard score.
“We found some holes in the defense, and I delivered. My guys just put the ball in the end zone for me,” Irwin said. “My line, they blocked really well for me.”
On a sweep to the outside in the third, Senator freshman Jeffery Bishop sprinted past the ND defense on his way to a 74-yard score that put Portsmouth West ahead 21-7.
Irwin nearly connected with Bishop on a TD pass in the third quarter that just sailed past the receiver’s outstretched hands on the next series.
After trading turnovers and punts through the next six series’, Portsmouth West added the final score on a 4-yard run by Irwin.
The two teams combined for five fumbles in the game.
Notre Dame fumbled three times, losing two of them while West fumbled twice, lost one and threw the only interception.
The Titans were flagged for eight penalties for 75 yards, while the Senators had seven penalties for 55 yards.
The Titans’ penalties began to stack up as the game wore on.
Portsmouth West attributed the win to its conditioning.
“This is one of the best (conditioned) teams I’ve ever played with and we were just able to wear them down,” said Brown, who finished the contest with 88 yards on 18 carries with multiple big gains nullified by his team’s penalties.
Portsmouth West will need to correct the turnovers and penalties before it travels to Waverly in week two for its Southern Ohio Conference Division II opener at Raidiger Field.
“We got off to a bit of a slow start there,” Senators head coach Ben Johnson said. “I think we weren’t quite ready for the speed of the game and they popped one off on us. I was proud of how our guys bounced back and battled. I thought our conditioning showed at the end of the game and I was proud of our guys for that.”
Notre Dame will be on the road again as it travels to Northwest for the SOC I opener at Roy Rogers Field.
Notre Dame – 7 0 0 0 – 7
Portsmouth West – 0 14 7 7 — 28
ND – Noland Hiland, 58-yard run (Caleb Nichols kick good), 11:32 1Q (7-0 ND)
PW – Ryan Sissel, 34-yard catch from Mitchell Irwin (Caleb Hazelbaker kick good), 8:15 2Q (7-7 tie)
PW – Cole Tipton, 28-yard catch from Mitchell Irwin (Caleb Hazelbaker kick good), 1:08 2Q (14-7 PW)
PW – Jeffery Bishop, 74-yard run (Caleb Hazelbaker kick good), 5:43 3Q (21-7 PW)
PW – Mitchell Irwin, 4-yard run (Caleb Hazelbaker kick good), 3:23 4Q (28-7 PW)
|Yards (Rushing-Passing)||101 (101-0)||353 (267-86)|
|Time of possession||15:45||31:11|
|Penalties||8 for 75||7 for 55|
Rushing – Notre Dame: Logan Emnett 6-0, Beau Hobbs 2-21, Caleb Nichols 9-28, Dylan Seison, 1-2, Noland Hiland 4-62 TD, Austin Vaughters 1-(-3), Wyatt Webb 1-(-7), Jake McGuire 1-(-5); West: Hunter Brown 18-88, Jeffery Bishop 4-116 TD, Ryan Sissel 2-7, Irwin 4-15 TD, Brandon Potter 5-41.
Passing – Notre Dame: n/a; Portsmouth West: Mitchell Irwin 8/12 86 yards 2 TDs 1 INT.
Receiving – Notre Dame: None; West: Cole Tipton 3-38 TD, Ryan Sissel 3-35 TD, Diamonte Skaggs 1-5, Brandon Anderson 1-8