Prep football: Warriors take a tumble

VINCENT – One week after knocking off the favorites to win the Southeastern Ohio Athletic League title, the Warren Warriors saw the only team without a chance to gain at least a share of the crown ruin their chances at a title.

On the strength of quarterback Sky Oliver’s 278 yards and four touchdowns the Portsmouth Trojans capitalized on big plays to take a 26-12 victory over the Warriors in Vincent Friday night.

“We just didn’t play well (Friday) night,” said Warren football coach Andy Schob. “Hung around, and then they had some big plays on us.”

Big plays was the name of the game for the Trojan offense, which had six plays of over 30 yards in the passing game, including touchdowns of 41, 69 and 32 yards along with a 10 yard score.

Those touchdown plays accounted for 40 percent of the Portsmouth offensive output for the game, as the Trojans had 372 yards of offense with 152 coming on those four scores.

In the second half of play, the Trojans had run just 10 plays from scrimmage to start the fourth quarter and only 13 with less than six minutes to play in regulation. Of course, Portsmouth had scored a pair of touchdowns on those 10 plays as well, outgaining the Warriors 111 to 109 in yardage despite Warren running 41 plays in that same time frame and taking better than 14 minutes off the clock.

“We had opportunities. We had plenty of opportunities,” Schob said. “Unfortunately, we can’t go back and change them. We just didn’t finish drives and execute.”

Finishing drives proved to be a problem for the Warriors all night long, while the Trojans capitalized on their big plays to withstand the prolonged time their defense was on the field.

Nine of the Warriors’ 12 possessions ran at least five plays as Warren picked up 20 first downs in the contest, but just twice could they find the endzone and both came in the fourth quarter when the outcome was already decided.

Neither team could find the endzone in the first 12 minutes of play, as the game was scoreless after one but the Trojans found their offensive spark through the passing game early in the second quarter when Oliver connected with Brandon Wedebrook on a 41-yard touchdown pass with 10:31 before the break.

The play came on the heels of a personal foul penalty against the Trojans that had them facing a third-and-25 situation.

“They converted on a couple of their big plays and kept ahead of us,” Schob said.

Portsmouth took advantage of breakdowns by the Warrior defense on their second scoring drive, benefitting from a pair of penalties against Warren before Oliver connected with Isiaha Lisath on a 10-yard touchdown strike with 7:05 in the first half.

Down 14-0, the Warriors nearly turned the tide of the game late in the second quarter when senior Connor Cisler blocked Zach Delotell’s punt. Caleb Mayle recovered the blocked punt for the Warriors and took it to the 9-yard line.

Three straight runs by the Warriors had moved the ball to the 3-yard line, and Warren turned the ball over on downs on the one after electing to go for the endzone on fourth down instead of taking the field goal.

“How many times are you going to be down around the two or three yard line? We thought we needed touchdowns,” Schob said.

Leading 14-0 after two stanzas of play, Portsmouth again found life through the passing game in the third quarter after intercepting Warren quarterback Austin Klintworth’s pass and taking possession at the 50-yard line.

Three plays later Oliver again connected with Wedebrook for a 20-point advantage.

Portsmouth made it a four score game on the Trojans’ first possession of the fourth quarter when Lisath took a short pass and broke free from the Warrior defense, which stopped on the play thinking it had been blown dead, and raced 69 yards to paydirt for a 26-0 lead.

“At least two of their touchdowns we thought we had them stopped,” Schob said.

Instead of stopping the Trojan offense, the Warriors found themselves looking up at the scoreboard and with little time to mount a comeback.

Still, the Warriors managed to gain ground in the final 10 minutes of regulation play.

Warren finally got on the board with 6:27 to play when Klintworth connected with David Ryan on a 14-yard touchdown pass. Taking over after a Portsmouth fumble on the next series, the Warriors again found the endzone as Klintworth connected with Jake Powell from 13 yards out.

Unfortunately for the Warriors, that touchdown came with just 56 seconds on the clock and there was far too little time to complete the attempt at a comeback.

Warren’s loss was their second in league play, effectively removing them from the SEOAL title hunt. Logan’s 35-21 victory over Gallia Academy Friday night knocked the Blue Devils from title contention as well, after Gallia was picked by many to win the league this year.

Logan is now the front-runner in league standings without a loss in SEOAL play while Jackson has just one. If the Warriors defeat the Chieftains in Logan next week and the Ironmen knock off Gallia Academy then Jackson and Logan will share the league title, otherwise the SEOAL crown will return to Logan for the first time since 2009. Gallia Academy won the crown in 2012.

“Regardless of whether you win or lose, I’m proud of our 17 seniors. They’re great kids,” Schob said. “We get one more game together and we’ll take advantage of that.”