PORTSMOUTH — Legendary coach Bear Bryant once said defense wins championships.
On Friday night, defense and some explosive offensive plays helped elevate the Portsmouth Trojans to a 34-0 shutout win over visiting Fairland at Trojan Coliseum.
The 34-point victory over the Dragons was the first time a Trojan defense pitched a shutout since a 39-0 win vs. South Point on Oct. 20, 2017.
Two big pass plays from Fairland’s Peyton Jackson to Steeler Leep accounted for 129 of their 178 yards on offense.
The Dragons picked up just six first downs on 37 plays from scrimmage.
Portsmouth picked up 18 first downs, accounted for 440 yards on offense, and turned Fairland’s offense over three times via interception.
Portsmouth senior Beau Hammond intercepted a Jackson pass on Fairland’s second drive of the game, taking it to the end zone for a 30-yard pick six for the game’s first score with 2:59 left in the first quarter.
Zach Roth’s made extra point put the Trojans ahead 7-0.
Senior Nolan Heiland intercepted two Fairland passes in the win.
“We’ve harped on defense, last year we had a great year putting an emphasis on stopping the run. We knew Fairland could throw the ball well and that they had playmakers. We played a lot of man coverage, felt we had an edge in the athleticism and came up with three huge turnovers. To get a defensive score was awesome. Really pleased with how they stepped up and answered the call.”
After getting the scoring started on defense, Hammond took an option run for an eight-yard touchdown run to put the Trojans up 13-0.
Hammond was the Trojans’ leading ballcarrier, rushing for 76 yards on 14 carries.
With a 13-0 lead at half, Portsmouth kept the pressure on in the final 24 minutes.
Tyler Duncan scored from three yards out on a run to put the Trojans ahead 20-0 on their first offensive series of the second half.
Portsmouth’s next two offensive series’ also resulted in touchdowns — and ultimately turned on the running clock inside the Coliseum.
The score that gave the Trojans a four-possession lead was a wild one.
Facing a 3rd and 25, Duncan found senior Jayden Duncan on a comeback route along the Trojan sideline.
Instead of turning up-field, Duncan lateraled the ball to Heiland, who out-ran several Dragon defenders for a 41-yard touchdown.
The play was situation, Kalb said, and his players executed to perfection.
“We call it a Philo flick, a play that Philo used on us way back in the 80s and still carry that name. What a catch by Jayden Duncan and the flip to Nolan Heiland who took it the distance,” Kalb said. “It was exactly how you draw it up, so happy to go out there see the kids execute it.”
On the next drive, Portsmouth took advantage of Fairland’s eighth stalled drive.
Duncan connected with Jayden Duncan on a 25-yard leaping, acrobatic catch in the south end zone — putting Portsmouth ahead by the game’s final score.
Duncan threw for 293 yards and two touchdowns on 18-of-26 passing.
Jayden Duncan hauled in four catches for 76 yards and the score.
“It started on Monday with our practice,” Kalb said. “These kids showed up, knew there was a lot at stake this week. The fact we’re playing Fairland whose a good ballclub, and that it had implications for the league and postseason. They came in Monday focused and had a great day each week — our best week of practice all season and it showed tonight on the field. They took to heart everything we were telling them day one.”
The win gives Portsmouth its third-straight and improves its record to 5-3.
More importantly, the victory gives the Trojans a major edge in the OHSAA’s computer ratings — and keeps their hopes alive in the Ohio Valley Conference race.
As of Friday’s results, Portsmouth (5-3, 4-1 OVC) and Gallia Academy (7-1, 4-1 OVC) are tied for second place in the OVC race behind first-place Ironton (8-0, 5-0 OVC).
The Blue Devils suffered their first loss of the season, 35-31 to Rock Hill in week eight, and travel to Ironton to face the Fighting Tigers in week nine.
Portsmouth closes its regular season with a road trip to South Point (3-5) in week nine, and its annual meeting with the Fighting Tigers at home in week 10.
“We need to continue to play good football. If we can keep going off what we did tonight, the sky’s the limit,” Kalb said. “We started to really settle to who we are and what we’re capable of and I feel like it showed against who we felt was a really good Fairland team.”
Fairland 0 0 0 0 — 0
Portsmouth 7 6 14 7 — 34
P — Beau Hammond, 30-yard interception (Zach Roth XP good); 7-0 P 2:59 1Q
P — Beau Hammond, 8-yard run (XP no good); 13-0 P 11:33 2Q
P — Tyler Duncan, 3-yard run (Zach Roth XP good); 20-0 P 8:09 3Q
P — Nolan Heiland, 41-yard pass from Tyler Duncan (Zach Roth XP good); 27-0 P 1:55 3Q
P — Jayden Duncan, 25-yard pass from Tyler Duncan (Zach Roth XP good); 34-0 P 6:49 4Q
|Yards (Pass-Rush)||178 (151-27)||440 (293-147)|
|Penalties||1 for 15 yards||5 for 40 yards|
|Time of Possession||19:04||28:56|
Passing — Peyton Jackson (F) 3/10 131 2INT, Brycen Hunt (F) 4/7 20 yards INT, Kam Kitts (F) 0/1; Tyler Duncan 18/26 293 yards 2TD
Rushing — Brycen Hunt (F) 7-10, Zion Martin (F) 8-7, Kam Kitts (F) 1-9, Steeler Leep (F) 1-1, Peyton Jackson (F) 1-0; Beau Hammond (P) 14-76 TD, Brenden Truett (P) 9-30, Tyler Duncan (P) 5-30 TD, J.T. Williams (P) 1-9, Nolan Heiland (P) 2-5
Receiving — Nolan Heiland (P) 3-94 TD, Reade Pendleton (P) 7-76, Jayden Duncan (P) 4-76 TD, Beau Hammond (P) 4-45
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 370-0713 ext. 1930, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved