PDT Sports Editor
IRONTON —Portsmouth defeated Ironton, 33-20, behind a career rushing performance from Johnnie Charles III who ended up with a 162 yards on 17 attempts.
Other than Charles’ rushing performance, the story of the game was turnovers, missed opportunities and big plays. The story coming into the contest was the health of starting quarterback Brandon Wedebrook who was injured last week during the Trojans’ loss to Minford.
“The one thing that we’ve done all year that we didn’t do tonight is when adversity hit, we didn’t go into the take,” Portsmouth coach Jason Sparks said.
After winning the coin toss and electing to receive, Portsmouth’s Khalil Lattimore fumbled the opening kickoff, giving Ironton the ball on the Trojans’ 26-yard line.
The Fighting Tigers would not take advantage of the gift. After five plays and the ball resting at Portsmouth’s 8-yard line, Ironton tried to convert a fourth and 10 but failed to do so.
After a three-and-out by Portsmouth (2-3), the Fighting Tigers put together a 10-play drive but failed to pick up their second consecutive fourth down attempt.
The Trojans struck first in the second quarter when Zack DeLotell picked off a Tristan Cox pass and took the ball to the house. On Ironton’s 21-yard line, after two consecutive illegal motion penalties on the Fighting Tigers, Cox tried to set up a screen pass but got in trouble when the play wasn’t there and threw an errant ball over the middle of the field.
Ironton (2-3) came back with a 12 play, 69-yard scoring drive to tie the contest at seven apiece. A Cox 9-yard touchdown scamper capped off the drive. The Fighting Tigers went 3-for-3 on third down conversions to keep the drive alive.
On Portsmouth’s next possession, Sky Oliver completed two passes to guide the Trojans back into the lead just before halftime. On the first play of the drive, Oliver completed pass to Alex Dickerson that covered 37 yards. Two plays later, with the ball resting on the 11-yard line of Ironton, Oliver found Dickerson in the endzone.
Wedebrook’s injury opened the door for backup Oliver who took full advantage of the opportunity.
“He rose to the occasion,” Sparks said. “We expected him to make some mistakes and he made a few, but his athletic ability made up for so much stuff.”
Sparks wouldn’t elaborate on his plans going forward at the quarterback position.
“Nobody is going to lose their job because of injury,” Sparks said. “But I’d be dumb to say that he didn’t do some things that’s going to open our eyes. He and Wedebrook will battle but I’ll tell you one thing, who ever wins the job, they are both going to be on the field. You can guarantee that.”
With Portsmouth leading, Ironton drove the length of the field but failed to covert its third fourth down attempt of the first half. The Fighting Tigers dominated the first half’s time of possession but several miscues halted their momentum.
In the second, Portsmouth got the ball after Ironton was forced to punt.
The Trojans ran into some misfortune on their opening possession of the second half. Austin Hollins dropped a bubble pass from Oliver, which was ruled a backwards pass, and therefore a fumble, which was recovered by Ironton. Holding on to the ball was an ongoing issue for Portsmouth who fumbled six times, losing four.
Ironton narrowed the Portsmouth lead to one after Cox found Joe Bowling for a 25-yard touchdown connection. The extra point was no good. The Trojans lead 14-13.
On the ensuing kickoff, Charles returned the kick 61 yards to set up Portsmouth on the Fighting Tigers’ 14-yard line. One play later, the Trojans were celebrating a 14 yard scoring play as Oliver found Lattimore in the endzone. Portsmouth lead 20-13 after the failed extra point.
After an Ironton punt, the Trojans went on a 15-play scoring drive, which consisted of big plays that helped erase some negative yardage due to penalties. The biggest play came on a second and 25 from Portsmouth’s 38-yard line. Charles took the handoff from Oliver, broke several tackles and the end result was a 36-yard gain to move the chains. The long drive was capped off by a Charles six yard run, his first of two scores on the night.
Leading 26-13, the Trojans attempted a two-point conversion, which was unsuccessful.
The Fighting Tigers’ next drive end prematurely after a Cox over throw resulted in a Charles interception. Cox threw four picks on the evening.
After another Portsmouth Fumble, Ironton cut the Trojans’ lead to 26-13 with 5:40 remaining in the contest after a Cox 11 yard touchdown run, his second rushing score of the night.
With the game hanging in the balance, Portsmouth drove the length of the field, which set up a first and goal from Ironton’s two-yard line. However, a fumbled snap on the next play gave the Fighting Tigers a chance to escape from the game with a victory. The only problem — Ironton had to go 99 yards for the game winning touchdown.
After two pass plays, the Fighting Tigers had a second and 15 at their own 14-yard line. Cox attempted a pass, which was picked off by Dickerson to end the drive.
On the very next play, Charles took the handoff and scored from 25 yards out, which gave Portsmouth a 33-20 lead with 2:12 reaming in the contest.
“We capitalized on their mistakes and luckily, they didn’t capitalize on all of our mistakes,” Sparks said. “They capitalized on a couple but not all of them.”
Ironton’s night end the same way it began. On fourth and five, the Fighting Tiger’s failed to convert as Cox threw an interception to seal the victory for the Trojans.
Chris Slone can be reached at 353-3101, ext 298, or email@example.com. For breaking sports news, follow Chris on Twitter @crslone.
Portsmouth 0 14 12 7 — 33
Ironton 0 7 6 7 0 — 20
Portsmouth—Green 21 interception return (DeLotell kick) 10:01
Ironton—Cox 9 run (Klaiber kick) 4:01
Portsmouth—Dickerson 11 pass from Oliver (DeLotell kick)
Ironton—Bowling 25 pass from Cox (failed kick) 8:02
Portsmouth—Lattimore 14 pass from Oliver (failed kick) 7:43
Portsmouth—Charles 6 run (failed conversion) :22.6
Ironton—Cox 11 run (Klaiber kick) 5:40
Portsmouth—Charles 25 run (DeLotell) 2:12
First Downs15 20
Rush Att-Yds.145 213
Rushing: Portsmouth — Charles 17-162, Hollins 6-2, Oliver 9- -19; Ironton — Cox 22-112, Easterling 9-29, Young 4-23, Long 6-22, Berry 5-21, Price 4-6.
Passing: Portsmouth — Oliver 12-18 194; Ironton — Cox 15-26-4 154.
Receiving: Portsmouth — Lisath 6-86, Dickerson 3-64, Lattimore 2-42, Hollins 1-2; Ironton — Bowling 6-82, Long 3-25, Price 2-22, Easterling 2-17, Campbell 2-8.
Records: Portsmouth 2-3, Ironton 2-3