POINT PLEASANT, W.Va. — When a machine is off for eight months, it takes a little time to get it back up to speed.
The Point Pleasant football team sputtered out to a 21-7 halftime advantage, then found its more traditional rhythm down the stretch Friday night during a 62-7 victory over visiting Lincoln County in a Week 1 non-conference matchup at Ohio Valley Bank Track and Field in Mason County.
The host Big Blacks (1-0) accumulated 659 yards of total offense while also extending their West Virginia-best regular season winning streak to 24 games. PPHS scored the final 48 points of regulation — including 41 second half points — while also limiting the Panthers (0-1) to 147 total yards offensively.
Senior quarterback Cody Mitchell — who has given a verbal commitment to Marshall University — scored the first four of Point’s nine touchdowns on the night and also led the rushing attack with 172 yards on a dozen carries.
The Big Blacks — who churned out 531 rushing yards on 34 attempts — had two other rushers go over the century mark as Grant Safford had 14 carries for 168 yards and two scores, while Sheb Harris had 109 yards and a TD on three carries.
Mitchell gave the hosts a permanent lead with a 23-yard TD scamper at the 4:09 mark of the first quarter, then added a five-yard run at the 10:29 mark of the second for a 14-0 cushion.
LCHS — which picked up two of its first three first downs from the punt unit — had its lone highlight late in the half after Cory Rusk hauled in a short pass from Jake Ashley and went 60 yards to cut the deficit in half with 1:56 remaining.
PPHS, however, got a 38-yard TD run from Mitchell with 48 seconds left, allowing the hosts to take a 21-7 edge into the break.
The Big Blacks held a 216-139 edge in total yards in the first half, which included a 182-45 advantage on the ground. Lincoln County forced one turnover and held a 31-24 lead in total plays before halftime, but Point claimed a 10-6 edge in first downs.
Mitchell tacked on his final score with a 32-yard run at the 10:05 mark of the third, then Safford tacked on TD runs of three yards and 59 yards for a 42-7 advantage with 4:56 left. Cason Payne capped off the 28-point third quarter with a 41-yard jaunt with 2:45 remaining.
Nathan Bowman had a 10-yard TD run with 10:44 left in regulation, then Harris went 87 yards to wrap up the scoring with 5:58 remaining in the game. PPHS kicker Jason Schultz was 8-of-9 overall on point-after tries.
The Big Blacks doubled up LCHS in first downs by a 20-10 margin and also allowed only 24 rushing yards on 41 attempts. PPHS also committed the only two turnovers of the game.
Mitchell was 3-of-6 passing for 34 yards, which included one interception early in the first half. Safford led the wideouts with 35 yards on one catch, while Mitchell and Andrew Roach hauled in a pass apiece for 14 and 10 yards respectively.
Tristan Browning led the Panthers with 69 rushing yards on 17 carries, followed by Dennis Rakes with one carry for three yards.
Ashley finished the night 4-of-13 passing for 94 yards. Nathaniel Spencer led the Lincoln County wideouts with three catches for 34 yards, followed by Rakes with two grabs for 29 yards.
PPHS was penalized five times for 56 yards, while LCHS was flagged 10 times for 52 yards. The Big Blacks did not punt once in the game and the Panthers had 10 punts for an average of 36 yards.
Point Pleasant returns to action Friday when it hosts Ripley in a Week 2 non-conference matchup. Kick off at OVB Field is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.