The Southern Ohio Spartans came into Saturday’s matchup looking for revenge for a Week 1 blowout at the hands of the Kentucky Warriors. Instead, they got a good case of deja vu.
In another stout defensive effort, the Kentucky Warriors (7-1) left no doubt that they’re the superior semi-pro team in Portsmouth by defeating the Spartans 40-6 at Spartan Stadium.
“It’s the best feeling, especially against the in-city rivals,” Warriors running back Jontez Jones said. “That’s the best part about it. It means the most.”
Jones led the way offensively for the Warriors, scoring three total touchdowns while racking up 66 rushing yards and 112 recieving yards on two catches.
“I can’t say too many good things about him,” said Warrior head coach Jamie Rice. “We’re lucky to have a back of that calliber. I’m surprised he’s not playing somewhere big.
But the real stars of the night were on the defensive side of the ball. The Warrior defense limited the Spartans to just 210 yards on the night, many of which came after the first string defense had been subbed out in the first quarter.
“We came out and really imposed our will on them,” Rice said. “They set us up in a position to really be succesful.”
The Warriors took control of the game early. After forcing the Spartans to go three and out on the first drive, the Warriors had a chance to take an early lead. Schweickart rolled out to his left and found Stamped in the corner of the end zone. However, a Warrior lineman left his assignment early and went down field, and the play was called back.
It wouldn’t take long for the Warriors to threaten again. After the Spartans forced a turnover on downs, Nate Fannin would quickly pick off Spartan quarterback Trey Vaught’s pass and return in more than 80 yards to the Spartan nine yard line. Jontez Jones would punch it in a few plays later to put the Warriors on the board.
The Warriors’ next possession lasted just 14 seconds. Schweickart found Jones coming out of the backfield with nothing but Kentucky bluegrass in front of him. Jones would take the pass 80 yards for the touchdown, which put the Warriors up 12-0.
“It’s just a blessing to come out here and get the opportunity to do it once again,” Jones said. “I gotta thank the man above for it.”
While the Warriors offense was busy putting points on the board, the defense was busy keeping the Spartans quiet in the first half. They would hold Southern Ohio to just 84 total yards and -2 rushing yards in the first half.
The highlight of the night came midway through the third quarter. With Warriors already holding a 19-0 lead, running back Luke Brown was looking to make a statement against his former team. After busting through the hole at midfield, Brown saw a Spartan defensive back in front of him.
“When we played them the first time, he hit me in the ankles. I mean he hit me low in the ankles,” Brown said. “I saw him at the end of the field and I told myself ‘I’m jumping this guy.’”
And that’s exactly what Brown did. He leaped clear over the Spartan defender on his way to picking up 22 yards, a play that would set up a Jonathon Schweickart touchdown run.
“I kind of sent a messsage, I’m a Warrior all the way,” Brown said. I have mad respect for that team, I’d fight for every one of them, but this is my home now.”
Former Portsmouth High School standout Duke Edwards was the bright spot for Southern Ohio. Though he took some big hits from the Warrior defense, he stayed in the game to pick up 40 rushing yards and the Spartans’ lone touchdown in the fourth quarter.
The win put the Warriors in a tie for first place with the Cincinnati Hawks, who fell to the Kings Comets 26-20 on Saturday. If Kentucky wins out and the Hawks lose one of their last two games, the Warriors would take home field advantage in the playoffs.
“It’s momentum, but we have road game next week,” Rice said. “That’s a good team we’re going to go play next week. I know it’s kind of a cliche, but we have to brush it off and get ready for (the Cincinnati Xtreme).”
As for the Spartans, they remain right in the hunt for the playoffs, as they sit in fifth place in the NFFL Blue Conference, just a game back of the Cincinnati Blue Devils.
Alex Hider can be reached at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1931 or on Twitter @PDTSportsWriter
SPARTANS 0 0 0 6 — 6
WARRIORS 6 13 14 7 — 40
KY — 1st (1:53) Jones, 6-yard rush (kick blocked) 6-0
KY — 2nd (14:46) Jones, 80-yard reception (kick blocked) 12-0
KY — 2nd (8:28) Canada, 7-yard reception (Dheel’s kick is good) 19-0
KY — 3rd (7:59) Schweickart, 7-yard rush (Dheel’s kick is good) 26-0
KY — 3rd (0:35) Jones, 32-yard reception (Dheel’s kick is good) 33-0
SO — 4th (6:02) Edwards, 1-yard rush (2 pt. try is no good) 33-6
KY — 4th (2:08) Payton, 27-yard reception (Dheel’s kick is good) 40-6