PDT Sports Editor
WEST PORTSMOUTH — It was not pretty, but football is not a beauty pageant.
Portsmouth came away with a 21-18 road win against West Friday evening marking the first time Portsmouth has won in the rivalry since 2009.
The teams combined for eight turnovers exemplifying the youth filling both rosters.
“I asked my guys after the game if they do this to me on purpose,” Portsmouth coach Curt Clifford said. “I think they wanted to see me flop around on the field like a fish out of water and have to go get those paddles to zap me back to life. If that’s what we got to do to win then I will flop around on the sidelines.”
West’s opening drive moved backwards 20 yards before giving way to a punt allowing Portsmouth good field position at the Senator’s 40-yard-line.
The Trojans initially appeared to waste their fortuitous field position after a pair of penalties, but capitalized with a scoring rush from Johnie Charles that spanned 27 yards of the 28 gained on the drive.
A successful 2-point conversion gave Portsmouth an 8-0 lead with 7:32 to play in the first quarter.
West answered on the subsequent drive with a 6-play, 65-yard drive that saw Austin Bricker connect with Zach Frye for a 54-yard touchdown pass making it 8-6 with 4:33 left in the first.
Bricker made the Senator’s 2-point conversion attempt successful on a quick rush up the middle to knot it at eight.
Portsmouth’s next drive sputtered and a bad snap forced the Trojans’ punter, Jacob Albrecht to try and run for a first down that he could not reach.
The turnover on downs gave West the ball on the Portsmouth 20 and two plays later Justin Crace dove into the end zone on a 4-yard touchdown rush making the score 15-8 after the extra point with 2:09 remaining in the first.
The Trojans answered 15 seconds later first with a 19-yard connection from Brandon Wedebrook to Darion Robinson and then a 47-yard touchdown scamper by Robinson to make it 15-14. Portsmouth’s 2-point conversion attempt failed to keep it at 15-14 with 1:47 left to play in the first.
West’s next possession ended in a fumble that was recovered by the Trojans, but Portsmouth coughed it up four plays later and the Senators recovered on the visitor’s 36-yard-line.
West appeared to be in good position to expand the lead from the narrowest of margins, but a pass from Austin Bricker was intercepted by Austin Hollins of Portsmouth at the 5-yard-line.
Portsmouth punted after the drive stalled and West initiated a 13-play, 67-yard scoring drive chewing up almost seven minutes of the second quarter. The drive was capped by a 27-yard field goal by Zach Dials to make expand West’s lead to 18-14 with 16.2 seconds to play.
After Portsmouth ran away the remaining first half clock and the intermission, Portsmouth had the opening drive of the second half.
The Trojans put together a seven-play, 55-yard effort that was capped with a 9-yard touchdown pass from Wedebrook to Robinson. The extra point made it 21-18 Trojans with 8:43 remaining in the third quarter.
Keeping with the night’s theme of youthful mistakes from both squads, West’s subsequent drive ended when Ethan Blackburn recovered a Bricker fumble at the Portsmouth 21.
But West got it back when Alec Meeker recovered a fumble off a bad Portsmouth exchange. However, West gave it back again when the Trojans forced the ball over on downs at the beginning of the final quarter.
Portsmouth, looking to expand their lead and push West into passing situations with time dwindling, pushed the ball to the 13-yard-line of West, but a Wedebrook pass over the middle was snagged by freshman lineman Josh Davis, who had dropped back into coverage.
The Senators could not move the ball out of their territory and used two timeouts on fourth-and-eight. After an unreturned punt, the Trojans took four plays to turn it over again with 3:07 to play.
With the ball at their own 39, West was knocked off schedule by a tackle for loss by linebacker Levi Hall, who appeared to removed his helmet in celebration after the play, but was not flagged.
The next play, Alex Dickerson intercepted a desperation throw by Bricker and returned it to the West 42-yard-line with 2:09 to play.
“It was a great football game we just made more mistakes than they did and we lost the ball game,” West coach Merrill Triplett said.
Charles gained 14 yards on Portsmouth’s first play of the drive, keeping the clock rolling. On fourth-and-four, Portsmouth converted with a 11-yard carry by Austin Rideout to run the clock out. It was Rideout’s only carry of the contest.
Asked to describe his feelings effort after the game, Clifford initially was speechless. Eventually he found the words to describe his team.
“Proud. Very Proud,” Clifford said. “I can’t say enough about the physicality of this ball game with both of these teams. These are both good football teams and I don’t think West is going to be an easy out for anybody.
“We know the score. We have been brutally honest with our kids. We are a good team. We are not a good team because of all the talent people seem to think we have. We are a good team because these kids play together. Next man is our motto.”
Triplett said the fastest way to recover from back-to-back losses to open the 2012 season is through hard work.
“We just go back to work. It’s a very young team so it will not phase them because we are that young,” Triplett said. “We have a few seniors out there pouring it out and they will rise to the occasion. It’s their year but they will rise and the younger groups will rise too.”
West inducted the first two members to their Athletic Hall of Fame in Washington High School multi-sports athlete and former Major League Baseball player Rocky Nelson and the first football coach in school history, Mike Everling.
The Senators drop to 0-2 while the Trojans even their record at 1-1. West travels to Chillicothe next week while Portsmouth keeps their streak of road games going with a trip to Wheelersburg.
BOB STRICKLEY may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 203, or email@example.com.
Portsmouth 14 0 7 0 - 21
West 15 3 0 0 - 18
Portsmouth - 27-yard rush by Johnie Charles 7:32 (2-point good) 0-8
West - A. Bricker pass to Z. Frye 54 yards 4:33 (2-point good) 8-8
West - 4-yard rush by J. Crace 2:09 (XP good) 15-8
Portsmouth - 47-yard carry D. Robinson 1:47 (2-point no good) 15-14
West - Z. Dials 27-yard field goal 16.2 18-14
Portsmouth - B. Wedebrook pass to D. Robinson 9-yards 3:10 (XP good) 21-18
Rushing: Portsmouth - B. Wedebrook 3-28, D. Robinson 9-57 TD, J. Charles 20-148 TD. J. Albrecht 4-3, A. Rideout 1-11; West - A. Bricker 14-55, J. Crace 18-82, Z. Frye 3-7, A. Meeker 3-3
Passing: Portsmouth - B. Wedebrook 7-15 110 TD, INT; West - A. Bricker 1-5 54 2 INT
Receiving: Portsmouth - D. Robinson 3-48 TD, J. Albrecht 1-13, A. Dickerson 3-25, J. Charles 1-21; West -Z. Frye 1-54 TD