GALLIPOLIS, Ohio — Now that’s taking care of business.
Gallia Academy racked up 429 yards of total offense, recorded seven sacks and had four different players score at least once Friday night during a 49-21 throttling of visiting Portsmouth in a Week 7 Southeastern Ohio Athletic League matchup at Memorial Field.
The Blue Devils (5-2, 2-0 SEOAL) celebrated Homecoming in fashionable style, as the hosts rallied back from an early 7-0 deficit by scoring six consecutive touchdowns over a 16-minute span to take a 42-7 advantage early in the third period.
The visiting Trojans (1-6, 0-2) responded with back-to-back scores to pull within 42-21 at the end of the third quarter, but they never came closer the rest of the way. GAHS tacked on its final TD of the night early in the fourth to wrap up the 28-point decision.
Gallia Academy rushed 27 times for six touchdowns and 352 yards, and the hosts added another score with 77 yards through the air — all of which are impressive numbers on the offensive side of the ball. But early on, it was PHS that looked like an offensive juggernaut.
After Wade Jarrell was picked off by Alex Dickerson on the Blue Devils’ opening drive, Portsmouth put together a seven-play, 36-yard scoring drive that ended at the 4:09 mark of the opening stanza after Dickerson hauled in a 12-yard scoring pass from Brandon Wedebrook for an early 7-0 advantage.
Gallia Academy’s next drive stalled and the Blue Devils were about to punt the ball away facing a fourth-and-four, but the Trojans were whistled for an illegal substitution — which gave the hosts a first down. Three plays and 48 yards later, the Blue and White were tied at seven following a 30-yard run to paydirt by Jarrell at the 2:14 mark of the first period.
The game was never the same following that penalty.
Gallia Academy forced a PHS punt on the ensuing possession, and the hosts needed just one play from scrimmage to take their first lead of the night. Ty Warnimont took a handoff and rumbled 52 yards to the endzone, giving the Devils a 14-7 advantage with no time remaining on the first quarter clock.
A bad snap on a punt attempt gave GAHS the ball at the Portsmouth 12-yard line, and the hosts needed just three plays to cover that distance for a 21-7 edge. Cody Russell plunged into the endzone from five yards out to cap the drive with 7:11 remaining in the half.
After a sack that caused a loss of downs for PHS, Jarrell ran 84 yards to paydirt on the first play of a new drive — giving GAHS a comfortable 28-7 lead with 4:11 left before halftime.
Gallia Academy again took over possession at the PHS 40 with just 18 seconds remaining until the break, and Jarrell found Reid Eastman on the receiving end of a 40-yard scoring bomb that gave the hosts a 35-7 lead with 8.8 seconds left until halftime.
The Blue Devils held a 266-150 edge in total yards at the break, including a whopping 199 rushing yards on just a dozen carries. Both teams also threw an interception in the opening 24 minutes of play.
GAHS picked up right where it left off in the second half, as the hosts needed just three plays and 60 seconds to cover 71 yards for its sixth straight scoring drive of the night. Warnimont ran 26 yards to paydirt at the 10:56 mark of the third for a sizable 42-7 advantage.
Portsmouth finally ended its scoring drought at the 2:33 mark of the third when Wedebrook found Dickerson on the receiving end of a 21-yard TD pass — capping an eight-play, 73-yard drive to pull the guests to within 42-14.
The Trojans forced a punt on the ensuing drive, then marched 18 yards in just two plays to cut the deficit in half at 42-21 with 1.2 seconds left in the third after Johnie Charles rumbled 18 yards to paydirt. The guests never came closer the rest of the way.
Jarrell ran for his third and final score of the evening on the opening drive of the fourth quarter, scrambling 30 yards to paydirt with 10:34 remaining in the game for a 49-21 cushion. Jarrell’s scoring run capped a three-play, 54-yard drive that ultimately concluded the scoring.
The Blue Devils finished the night plus-1 in turnover differential and increased their winning streak to four straight, while the Trojans dropped their fifth straight overall decision. PHS did claim a 24-15 edge in first downs and was penalized twice for 20 yards, compared to six flags and 60 yards for the hosts.
Following the game, GAHS coach Mike Eddy noted that it wasn’t a perfect night for his troops. But then again, his Blue Devils did more than enough to offset a less than perfect performance.
“We knew Portsmouth would be tough from the get-go because they have a lot of talent on that football team, regardless of what their record is,” Eddy said. “We always talk about bringing our best effort every week, because there is nobody in this league that you can take for granted. And we had to have a little gut-check there in the third quarter after we got a comfortable lead.
“Overall tonight, we did what we needed to do. These kids are hungry and they want to be champions. We are playing well right now and I am proud of them for that.”
Conversely, Portsmouth coach Curt Clifford was more optimistic about his team’s effort in the second half — because there just wasn’t much for the Trojans to focus on in the first half.
“At halftime, all I told the kids is that the true measure of a man is what he does when he is down,” Clifford said. “Our kids didn’t quit, and they chose to keep fighting. We have nine starters out because of injury or suspension, but I’m so proud of the kids for continuing to battle.
“I want to give credit to Coach (Mike) Eddy and those kids from Gallia Academy. Those guys are one tough football team, and I told our guys that if they wanted to beat Gallia Academy — we would have to match them toughness for toughness. We did a much better job of that in the second half.”
Jarrell led the GAHS rushing attack with 191 yards and three scores on seven carries, followed by Warnimont with 95 yards and two scores on three attempts. Nick Clagg had four carries for 35 yards, Luke Pullins added 21 yards on nine totes and Cody Russell had seven yards on three tries. Logan Allison also rushed once for three yards.
Jarrell completed 6-of-12 passes for 72 yards, throwing one touchdown and one interception. Cody Call was also 1-for-1 for five yards passing.
Eastman led the wideouts with one catch for 40 yards and a score, followed by Justin Bailey with one grab for 20 yards. Clagg and Warnimont both had one receptions for five yards, while Russell hauled in a two-yard grab.
Johnie Charles paced PHS with 120 rushing yards on 16 carries, while Dickerson added nine yards on four tries. Wedebrook was 17-of-26 passing for 219 yards with two picks and two TD passes, and Dickerson led the receivers with seven grabs for 77 yards and two scores.
The GAHS defensive line made Wedebrook’s night a nightmare, sacking the Portsmouth signal-caller seven times for minus-38 yards. Warnimont recorded two sacks, while Mark Allen, Austin Gragg, Briggs Shoemaker, Tyler Byus and Jose Roberts each recorded one sack.
Justin Bailey and Cody Russell each came away with one interception for the hosts. Dickerson had the lone takeaway for PHS on a first quarter interception.
Both kickers were perfect on extra-point attempts. Dylan Saunders was 7-for-7 on the night for GAHS, while Zach Delotell was 3-for-3 for the Trojans.
Gallia Academy will begin a two-game road trip starting next Friday when the Blue Devils travel to Vincent for a Week 8 SEOAL matchup against Warren. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.