Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
PORTSMOUTH — Lesson learned. Do not sleep on the Portsmouth Trojans.
After heading into the locker room in a 3-0 hole at halftime of its season opener, Portsmouth’s offense finally found a rhythm in the third quarter and proceeded to explode thereafter.
Led by standout quarterback Drew Roe and a stout defensive effort, the Trojans (1-0) poured on 35 unanswered points in a 35-3 win over Valley on Thursday evening at Trojan Coliseum.
“It was working out the kinks and getting those butterflies out of our stomach,” Portsmouth coach Bruce Kalb said. “Once we got rolling, boy did we get rolling.”
That’s an understatement.
Throughout the first two quarters, neither team’s offense could find the end zone. Long drives were ended by turnovers and penalties damaged both efforts in moving the football.
The half’s only score came after Valley’s Colten Buckle picked off a pass deep in his own territory and took the interception return to Portsmouth’s 20-yard line. Then, with 10.6 seconds left, Indians quarterback Carter Nickel hooked up with Buckle for an 11-yard gain.
Valley (0-1) signaled for a timeout and eventually sent Chase Ruby on to kick a 26-yard field goal as time expired.
That was the only points Portsmouth’s defense allowed all night long. The Trojans were constantly wreaking havoc while forcing three turnovers.
“I’m more than proud of our defense tonight,” Kalb said. “It’s something that we doubled down on this offseason. We wanted to make sure our defense could take care of defense. We were happy last week, I know we gave up a lot of points against Waverly, but we were happy with our performance. The week before, we were happy. Tonight, we’re ecstatic.”
Roe and company wasted no time taking a lead in the third quarter — that’s because Donovan Carr ran the opening second half kickoff back to Valley’s 27-yard line. Three plays later, Roe found a wide open Reade Pendleton in the end zone for six to make it a 7-3 score.
Just over five minutes later, the Trojans seized a 14-3 advantage when Beau Hammond scampered into the end zone from 38 yards out.
Valley, desperately needing an answer, stalled on its next drive and gave the ball back to Roe. The senior signal caller took advantage of another scoring opportunity, escaping pressure and finding Dariyonne Bryant with 50.6 seconds left in the third for a 36-yard touchdown pass to make it a 21-3 count.
“It’s ironic. Two years ago, against Valley, we discovered what we had in Drew,” Kalb said. “To watch him and his maturity to today has been pretty amazing.”
Later, with 7:39 left in the fourth, Roe found Bryant for a 20-yard touchdown strike to push the lead to 28-3. Portsmouth’s final score came at the 7:03 mark on a nine-yard fumble return for a touchdown via Hammond — a play that began with a botched snap on a punt attempt.
“We have a lot of weapons,” Kalb said. “You start overplaying Reade Pendleton and you have to account for [Bryant and Hammond]. You saw a lot of quick screens tonight to keep the chains moving. Donovan Carr as well. We feel like we have four solid weapons at receiver and teams have to account for that.”
Roe completed 18-of-31 pass attempts for 218 yards alongside three touchdowns and an interception.
Bryant caught six passes for 80 yards and two scores, and picked off a pass defensively, while Pendleton totaled six catches for 94 yards and a touchdown. On the ground, Hammond amassed 44 yards on four carries and a score.
As for Valley, Nickel completed 9-of-20 pass attempts for 64 yards while rushing for 17 yards on 10 carries. Chase Morrow added 14 rushes and 61 yards while George Arnett piled up 35 yards on 16 carries.
Portsmouth will now travel to West next Friday while Valley tries and knocks off the rust, hosting Coal Grove.
And, even though a 35-point win seems immaculate, Kalb knows there’s many things to work on.
“We have plenty to work on. In that first half, we couldn’t get out of our own way at times,” Kalb said. “Mental mistakes, mental errors and penalties put us behind the chains. Our coaching staff did a great job tonight and when we got in a rhythm there in the second half, we saw what type of team we could be.”
|9-20, 64 yards||Passing||18-31, 218 yards|
|42 rushes, 73 yards||Rushing||13 rushes, 44 yards|
|62 plays, 137 yards||Offense||44 plays, 262 yards|
|7 – 58 yards||Penalties||13 – 106 yards|