PORTSMOUTH — This time, Portsmouth probably didn’t mind the downpour.
At least after pouring it on the South Point Pointers over the opening 20 minutes.
That’s because the Trojans, in easily and successfully bouncing back from their one-point and rain-and-mud-mired loss at Fairland, torched the Pointers for 43 first-half points including 36 in the opening quarter —en route to sticking South Point for a 49-13 Ohio Valley Conference victory on Friday night inside rain-soaked Trojan Coliseum.
Yeah, what a difference a week —and a rainmaker — makes.
Ten days ago at Fairland, amid the natural-grass surface of Jim Mayo Memorial Stadium, the Trojans —in addition to dealing with the host and athletic Dragons — faced the wrath of Mother Nature as well.
Portsmouth played the Dragons amid the rain and subsequent muddied field conditions, losing 15-14 as a Trojan two-point conversion try failed in the final minute.
It didn’t help either that the Dragons burned the Trojans once again with a kickoff return for a touchdown —after Portsmouth’s first score.
But that was last week, and the Trojans turned the page to South Point —before moving on to the final chapter of this regular-season storybook this coming week at Ironton.
More on the now 7-2 Trojans at the 8-1 Fighting Tigers for the OVC championship later on, and later in the week.
Against South Point, the Trojans turned the trick with returning a kickoff for a score —the opening kickoff in fact as the Pointers truly gambled with an onsides attempt.
But it indeed backfired on South Point, as Portsmouth’s Jayden Duncan charged right up and scooped the ball up two yards shy of the necessary 10 to travel — as Duncan was untouched and off to the races for 48 yards and a touchdown.
Zach Roth made the first of his five extra-point kicks, the Trojans amounted 30 more first-period points, stymied South Point to a mere minus-46 rushing yards on a dozen first-half attempts, and set up the Portsmouth reserve players playing the majority of the final two-and-a-half quarters.
With the win, the Trojans raised their OVC record to 4-1 — as Portsmouth will now play at 8-1 and a perfect 6-0 in the league Ironton on Friday night.
The Fighting Tigers are the two-time defending OVC champions, and the back-to-back Division V state runners-up to Kirtland.
Similar to the Trojans’ triumph over winless Chesapeake two weeks back, and facing Fairland the next week, Friday night was all about Portsmouth not overlooking South Point —in favor of the Fighting Tigers.
“I know I sound like a broken record on this, but this team has an amazing ability to focus on the task at hand. The task at hand this week was South Point. South Point was the most important game all year to them. I was impressed with our ability to put last week (at Fairland) to bed. We learned from it and saw where we could have done better. Aside from the Mother Nature issues, we knew there were some breakdowns and mistakes we made. We came out tonight and executed and for a quarter-and-a-half of the ballgame, we couldn’t ask for better production out of our defense, offense and special teams,” said PHS coach Bruce Kalb. “Then we got our younger guys in and let them finish up.”
In fact, Portsmouth’s start was so strong that both clubs agreed to play the final three quarters — instead of the usual final two — under the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s running-clock rule.
And, the Trojans’ scoring started, and ended, with a “Duncan” in the end zone —as backup quarterback Tyler Duncan ran in a two-point conversion to make it 36-0, then scampered 57 yards with four minutes left to make it 49-6.
But Jayden Duncan’s heads-up, and charge-up, of the football for the return of the onsides kick to paydirt certainly set the tone.
Indeed, an opening onsides kickoff is highly rare — but even more so is a return of such for a score.
“What a headsy play by Jayden to see that,” said Kalb. “Most teams dribble the ball towards you, it’s like ‘oh my God’. But he saw it, he grabbed it, he scooped it and scored on it. What a smart play by him to go and get the ball and return it for a touchdown to set the tone for the ballgame. He was aware of something tricky, and boy he was in the right place at the right time.”
From there, through the opening third-quarter series, the Trojans forced South Point into five punts —all following three-and-out possessions.
The Trojans turned South Point over twice as well, scoring their second offensive touchdown after Hayden Griffith recovered a lost Pointer fumble at the 3-yard-line.
On the first play following, Drew Roe threw a pass to Reade Pendleton in the flat which he took in, making it 21-0 midway through the first quarter with Roth’s third of five extra points.
With the score 28-0 after a 20-yard touchdown toss from Roe to Donavan Carr, Beau Hammond —who already scored on a 10-yard run —had a defensive touchdown, intercepting a Jordan Ermalovich pass which ricocheted off his receiver.
The ball bounced off the Pointer wideout and Hammond had his hands in there to snare it, going 17 yards the other way —and making it 34-0 with a minute left in the opening stanza.
Tyler Duncan ran in the two-point conversion, and it was 36-0 only 11 minutes into the contest.
Finally, in the first half and nine minutes later, Amare Johnson scored on a 4-yard run to make it 43-0 —with Roth’s fifth and final extra point.
At that juncture, the Trojans started substituting liberally —and their reserve players finished from there.
Portsmouth scored on all four of its first-half possessions, which spanned plays of nine, one, two and finally five.
Only the first, which ran three minutes and 50 seconds off the clock, started outside the Pointers’ 22 — at the South Point 44.
Roe competed seven of his 10 pass attempts for 96 yards with the two TD tosses, as Duncan completed five of his seven passes for 37 yards.
With the benefit of short fields, Portsmouth produced 250 yards of total offense and a dozen first downs on only 30 snaps—with Carr catching five passes for 87.
Conversely, South Point didn’t pick up a first down —nor even cross its own 30-yard line let alone midfield —until its fourth-quarter scoring drive, which was all against the Trojans’ second-stringers.
Brayden Hanshaw — on 3rd-and-11 from the Portsmouth 14 — escaped a sack at least three times and lobbed a high-arching pass to Eli Wilburn, who made the catch, got an angle on the Trojan defense toward the end zone, and finally scored.
Wilburn also had the Pointers’ other score —returning the ensuing kickoff of Tyler Duncan’s TD 73 yards to the house for the 49-13 final.
But otherwise, the Trojans were constantly in South Point’s backfield —as the Pointers’ 17 rushes resulted in a stunning minus-63 yards.
Their two quarterbacks combined for 50 passing yards, with Wilburn catching two for 32.
“We did what we needed to do to take care of business and get our starters out and stay healthy going into next week,” said Kalb. “Weather-related conditions aside, I thought we did a really good job of executing, staying focused and doing what we do. There was nothing cute about it, we weren’t forcing anything, we were just playing good, sound fundamental football.”
Indeed, the Trojans probably didn’t mind a downpour this week —while pouring it on the Pointers, and preparing for Ironton and all the marbles ahead.
* * *
South Point 0 0 0 13 —13
Portsmouth 36 7 0 6 —49
P — Jayden Duncan, 48-yard kickoff return (Zach Roth kick), 11:53, 1st (7-0 P)
P — Beau Hammond, 10-yard run (Zach Roth kick), 6:05, 1st (14-0 P)
P — Reade Pendleton, 3-yard pass from Drew Roe (Zach Roth kick), 5:44, 1st (21-0 P)
P— Donavan Carr, 20-yard pass from Drew Roe (Zach Roth kick), 2:34, 1st (28-0 P)
P — Beau Hammond, 17-yard interception return (Tyler Duncan run), 1:00, 1st (36-0 P)
P — Amare Johnson, 4-yard run (Zach Roth kick), 4:03, 2nd (43-0 P)
SP — Eli Wilburn, 14-yard pass from Brayden Hanshaw (kick blocked), 6:28, 4th (43-6 P)
P — Tyler Duncan, 57-yard run (kick failed), 3:56, 4th (49-6 P)
SP — Eli Wilburn, 73-yard kickoff return (Mason Kazee kick), 3:44, 4th (49-13 P)
First downs 3 12
Scrimmage plays 29 30
Rushes-yards 17-(-63) 13-117
Passing yards 50 133
Total yards -13 250
Cmp-Att-Int. 6-12-1 12-17-0
Fumbles-lost 2-1 0-0
Penalties-yards 0-0 11-101
Punts-Ave 5-28.2 0-0
RUSHING —South Point: Jordan Ermalovich 6-(-43), Blaine Freeman 3-4, Maddox McCallister 2-(-1), Brayden Hanshaw 2-(-4), Eli Wilburn 2-(-8), Team 2-(-11); Portsmouth: Tyler Duncan 1-57 TD, Drew Roe 3-23, Beau Hammond 4-17 TD, Nick Copley 3-13, Amare Johnson 1-4 TD, J.T. Williams 1-3
PASSING — South Point: Brayden Hanshaw 4-6-0-40 TD, Jordan Ermalovich 2-6-1-10; Portsmouth: Drew Roe 7-10-0-96 2TD, Tyler Duncan 5-7-0-37
RECEIVING— South Point: Eli Wilburn 2-32 TD, Blaine Freeman 1-11, Rece Craft 2-8, Brayden Hanshaw 1-(-1); Portsmouth: Donavan Carr 5-87 TD, Chase Heiland 3-40, Beau Hammond 1-6, Reade Pendleton 1-3 TD, Noah Livingston 1-3, Nick Copley 1-(-6)
Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @paulboggssports © 2021 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved