After losing their first game of the season in heart-breaking fashion earlier this month, and with another undefeated squad set to come to town this week, the Portsmouth Warriors’ game with the Carter County Wildcats on Saturday had all the makings of a “trap game.”
However, the Warriors weren’t fooled.
Portsmouth (7-1) scored five touchdowns in the first half, and both teams agreed to use a running clock in the second half as the Warriors dismantled the Wildcats (4-4) for a 42-0 road win on Saturday.
“They were ready to play and exercise those demons a little bit. We came out with good intensity,” Warriors head coach Jamie Rice said.
It was the run game that sparked the Warriors early on. Midway through the first quarter, second-year running back Jontez Jones capped a 90-play, 43-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown to give the Warriors an early 7-0 lead. Luke Brown extended the lead with a 22-yard score just over a minute later. Brown took only two carries in Saturday’s game, but averaged 25 yards per carry on his way to 50 yards the evening.
As the first half progressed, Warrior quarterback Justin Lunsford decided he wanted in on the action. He found receiver Mike Dawkins from seven yards out near the end of the first quarter, and then found Santonio Wilson during the two-minute drill at the end of the first half for a 21-yard score.
Lunsford finished the day 9-for-11 for 158 yards, while Wilson lead the Warriors in receiving with four catches for 104 yards.
With Portsmouth leading 35-0 at halftime, both the Warriors and the Wildcats agreed to use a running clock for the entire second half. Though the Warriors held a substantial lead, they seemed to take their foot off the gas early in the half.
“We were still a little sloppy, a little more sloppy than what I wanted,” Rice said.
Portsmouth lost a few fumbles and failed to score in the third quarter, but the Warrior defense held strong and kept the Wildcats out of the end zone. Linebacker Zach Swayne led the way on defense, recording a team-high 11 tackles and a sack. Defensive backs Nate Fannin and Mason Jordan each came up with interceptions, and Dustin Robertson recorded a blocked kick.
Jones got the Warriors back on track and put the game out of reach early in the fourth quarter, scoring his second touchdown from 13 yards out. He would finish as the team’s rushing leader with 90 yards on 10 carries.
The Warriors’ win sets up a possible Blue Collar Football League championship game preview with the undefeated Butler County Broncos next weekend at Spartan Stadium. Though the Broncos play in what many considered to be the weaker of two conferences, Rice knows the Warriors will be tested in their final home game.
“The guys are excited for it, it’s going to be a fun one,” Rice said. “I think they’re a lot better than people give them credit for. They’re a good team.”
Reach Alex Hider at 740-353-3101 ext. 1931 or on Twitter @PDTSportsWriter