PDT Sports Writer
For a team that wants to mimic the offensive tempo of the Oregon Ducks, Portsmouth coach Jason Sparks felt a slower gear was needed in the Trojans home nonconference bout with West.
The decision proved to be fruitful as the Trojans gained 386 yards of total offense and limited their turnovers to claim a 35-21 home victory over the Senators. The win snapped Portsmouth’s 10-game regular season and a five-game home losing streak.
“It makes it better when your kids play hard for four quarters,” Sparks said.
As it had been for both teams in their opening week losses, it was a tale of two halves. This time, neither offense could get going as they combined for nine punts in the first half.
After trading a pair of three-and-outs, the Trojans struck first in the latter stages of the opening quarter when Brandon Wedebrook connected with Sky Oliver on a fourth-and-nine for a 35-yard air strike. West cracked the scoring column late in the half when Austin Bricker plowed in for a seven-yard score with 42 seconds to go in the second.
“I just thought our kids played great, I thought we ran the ball hard, I thought we blocked well (and) I thought we played great defense,” Senators coach Merril Triplett said.
However, Portsmouth was able to execute the two-minute drill in nearly a span of 30 seconds. Back-to-back passes from Wedebrook to Oliver put the Trojans on the West doorstop. Johnnie Charles was able to knife through for a one-yard score to make it 14-7 at intermission.
Action picked up in the second half when Portsmouth extended its lead on its first series. The Trojans took advantage of a Bricker fumble when Darion Robinson’s 50-yard dash set up a Wedebrook sneak from a yard out.
“We gave up a few long plays that kind of broke our back but our kids never quit,” Triplett said.
Bricker redeemed himself on the next drive when he capped off a nine-play, 64-yard drive with a one-yard plunge.
Wedebrook’s 25-yard pass to Alex Dickerson and Steven Irwin’s 28-yard scoring connection to Michael Davis as a counterpunch for the Senators made the contest a 28-21 affair with 8:46 to go.
When both squads failed to convert fourth downs on their ensuing possessions, the Trojans put the game away when they got the ball back as Charles’ 12-yard scamper with 2:35 to go put the game away.
“We came to a point where we just started running outside, started sealing everybody off and trying to get the edge,” Sparks said. “Our kids did a great job.”
Portsmouth’s Austin Ridout jumped on the Trojans’ squib kick and allowed his squad to run out the clock.
“We learned how to win tonight,” Sparks said. “That was a big thing. We had ourselves in a position and we didn’t stop.”
Darion Robinson led all rushers with 160 yards on 15 carries in the win while Charles finished with 69 yards on 13 totes and two scores.
“We took one of their philosophies and used it with our offense,” Sparks said. “They put a lot of bodies at the point of attack on offense, so we did the same thing.”
Wedebrook was 7-of-13 through the air for 144 yards for two touchdowns and an interception. His favorite target was Oliver, who grabbed three balls for 80 yards and a score.
“His number was called and he answered,” Sparks said. “We feel like we’ve got four to five receivers who can go.”
Bricker was West’s workhorse on the ground as he churned up 111 yards on 29 attempts for two scores. Triplett feels Bricker is the perfect example of what this tight-knit senior class has become.
“He’s just a man, he just won’t go down,” Triplett said. “He runs hard. I’ve never coached a kid (who is) running harder than him, he’s just got a lot of pride and is just trying to win every time he touches (the ball).”
Dylan Koons had 10 carries for 46 yards and Bryson Hurd finished with 39 yards on five rushes for the Senators.
The SOC II tour through the Coliseum continues next Friday when Wheelersburg comes to Portsmouth. West hosts Baltimore Liberty Union, which has recent success against SOC-affiliated schools. The Lions defeated the Pirates, Oak Hill and Valley in order to claim the Division V, Region 19 title a year ago.
Cody Leist can be reached at 353-3101, ext. 294, or firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking sports news, follow Cody on Twitter @CodyLeist.
West 0 7 7 7 — 21
Portsmouth 7 7 7 14 — 35
P — Oliver 35 pass from Wedebrook (Delotell kick) 3:08
W — Bricker 7 run (Dials kick) :42.4
P — Charles 1 run (Delotell kick) :13.8
P — Wedebrook 1 run (Delotell kick) 6:30
W — Bricker 1 run (Dials kick) 3:33
P — Dickerson 25 pass from Wedebrook (Delotell kick) 10:20
W — Davis 28 pass from Irwin (Dials kick) 8:46
P — Charles 12 run (Delotell kick) 2:35
First Downs 14 15
Rush Att-Yds. 51-198 40-242
Pass Att.-Comp.-Int. 9-4-0 13-7-1
Pass Yds. 59 144
Total Yds. 257 386
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 1-0
Turnovers 1 1
Penalties-Yds. 5-40 10-70
Punts.-Avg. 4-31 5-32
RUSHING: West — Bricker 29-11, Koons 10-46, Hurd 5-39, Irwin 5-2, Howell 2-0; Portsmouth — Robinson 15-160, Charles 13-69, Wedebrook 9-7, Dickerson 1-6.
PASSING: West — Irwin 4-9-0 59; Portsmouth — Wedebrook 7-13-1 144.
RECEIVING: West — Davis 2-37, Welch 1-16, Koons 1-6; Portsmouth — Oliver 3-80, Dickerson 3-53, Robinson 1-11.
Records—West 0-2; Portsmouth 1-1.