Big Blacks burn Blue Devils, 61-12


By Paul Boggs - pboggs@civitasmedia.com



Gallia Academy’s Garrett Burns (3) looks to avoid the tackle of Point Pleasant’s Jason Wamsley (13) during Friday night’s non-league football game at Point Pleasant High School. (Paul Boggs/OVP Sports)


Paul Boggs/OVP Sports

POINT PLEASANT, W. Va. —Against the archrival Blue Devils, the Big Blacks were simply red hot on Friday night.

In rolling up 537 first-half total yards, and scoring on every single solitary possession in the first half, Point Pleasant — playing in its home opener — crushed visiting Gallia Academy 61-12 in the 83rd installment of the Battle of the Bridge inside a steamy Ohio Valley Bank Track and Field in Point Pleasant.

That’s right.

Point Pleasant scored on all eight of its first-half possessions, turning two early turnovers into points — following its first touchdown on the third play from scrimmage.

By game’s end, the two teams played two 10-minute quarters in the second half — as the West Virginia state rule of a running fourth-quarter clock kicked in with the Big Blacks leading 54-12.

Point Pleasant stormed out to an insurmountable 54-6 halftime lead, and scored its final touchdown when Keshawn Stover raced 65 yards with only two minutes and 17 seconds remaining.

With the win, the Big Blacks improved to a perfect 3-0 — and extended their ongoing West Virginia-best win streak to 36 games.

Point Pleasant pushed its home regular-season win streak to 17, and won its third consecutive in the Battle of the Bridge series against the Blue Devils.

Gallia Academy — meanwhile — remains winless at 0-3, and suffered its 12th consecutive non-league defeat.

Friday night also marked the third straight time in which the Big Blacks have scored at least 58 points against the Blue Devils.

In addition, after amassing 768 yards and 35 first downs in its opening two tilts, Point poured on 637 total yards and 26 first downs against Gallia Academy.

All but 100 total yards and three first downs came in the first half, in which the Big Blacks burned the Blue Devils with several big plays for scores — six for 28 yards or more, including their first four of 40 yards or more.

“I was really pleased with our performance tonight. We worked really hard this week and made a couple of corrections that we needed to make with our blocking up front. I’m really proud of them. We saw a similar look (defensively) that we saw last week against Ripley, and tonight we attacked it the way we want them to attack it,” said veteran Point Pleasant coach Dave Darst. “I thought our offensive linemen tonight made the biggest growth.”

That front paved the way for eight first-half touchdowns on eight first-half possessions, often opening large holes for a plethora of Point Pleasant running backs.

A total of 10 Big Black backs carried the football at least once, while sophomore quarterback Cason Payne completed passes to six separate receivers — with four going for touchdowns.

“The key to being successful is making sure you have enough depth,” said Darst. “We tried to take another step towards that tonight with all the kids we had play. Our goal is try and play 30 kids on a given Friday night, and I think we played 26 varsity-wise (tonight).”

Payne himself rushed for 108 yards on only three attempts, while completing 7-of-11 passes for 223 yards.

Grant Safford also rushed for 108 yards on seven totes, and scored from 40 yards out on the game’s third play — making it 6-0 only a minute and nine seconds in.

Safford’s scamper was set up by Payne going 29 yards into Blue Devil territory — and the prevailing feeling at OVB Track & Field was that the Big Blacks were just warming up.

That was exactly what happened.

On the Blue Devils’ first series, quarterback Justin McClelland’s deep pass was intercepted by Sheb Harris at the 20-yard-line — and returned 13 yards to the Big Blacks’ 33.

Two plays later, Payne perfectly hit Jason Wamsley in stride on the deep slant route, resulting in a 59-yard scoring strike to put the Big Blacks ahead 12-0 at the nine-and-a-half minute mark.

Jason Schultz, who made five consecutive extra-point kicks after the initial miss and seven total, tacked on the PAT for the 13-0 lead — and all the points Point Pleasant needed for the win.

The Blue Devils then drove eight plays to near the red zone again, but the Big Blacks forced a McClelland fumble and PPHS recovered.

Two plays later, at the five-and-a-half minute mark, Payne called his own number up the middle — and sprinted 64 yards to the end zone to make it 20-0 with the extra point.

After the Blue Devils turned the ball over on downs at the Big Blacks’ 31, a pair of 15-yard pickups was capped off by Payne completing a 41-yard touchdown pass to Stover.

That was with 2:13 left in the first quarter, as the Big Blacks then forced three consecutive Gallia Academy three-and-outs — while scoring 27 more second-period points.

Alec Smith had a three-yard run only 33 seconds into the second stanza, as Payne completed touchdown tosses to Josh Wamsley for 33 yards at the nine-minute mark — and to Smith for 28 yards with 17 seconds to play.

With three minutes remaining in the quarter, Justin Brumfield capped the Big Blacks’ longest drive of the night — an eight-play, 55-yard march with a 1-yard plunge.

The Blue Devils were led by McClelland, who completed 15-of-29 passes for 193 yards, while rushing for 61 yards on 11 carries.

Gallia Academy broke the shutout when McClelland found Cody Call for a 16-yard touchdown pass with 1:16 left in the first half, as the Blue and White scored again with 2:49 remaining in the third period — on a 1-yard run by Boo Pullins.

The Blue Devils did finish with 286 total yards, and actually gained 18 first downs.

“They (Big Blacks) have a great football team and are very well-coached,” said GAHS coach Josh Riffe. “They have great players and play hard. We’re young, and games like this are who you figure out who you are. I think we found some guys that are going to keep fighting for us.”

The Big Blacks return home next Friday night against undefeated Logan (W. Va.), while Gallia Academy opens its initial season in the Ohio Valley Conference at undefeated Chesapeake.

Paul Boggs can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2106

Gallia Academy’s Garrett Burns (3) looks to avoid the tackle of Point Pleasant’s Jason Wamsley (13) during Friday night’s non-league football game at Point Pleasant High School. (Paul Boggs/OVP Sports)
http://mydailysentinel.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/web1_9.9-GA-Burns.jpgGallia Academy’s Garrett Burns (3) looks to avoid the tackle of Point Pleasant’s Jason Wamsley (13) during Friday night’s non-league football game at Point Pleasant High School. (Paul Boggs/OVP Sports) Paul Boggs/OVP Sports

By Paul Boggs

pboggs@civitasmedia.com

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