PRINCETON, W.Va. — A perfect end to another perfect regular season.
The Point Pleasant football team capped off its third straight undefeated regular season on Friday night, rolling to a 66-0 victory over non-conference host Princeton, in Mercer County. The Big Blacks, who have now won a state-best 33 straight regular season games, also posted perfect regular seasons in 1962, 1969, 1979, 2011, 2013 and 2014.
The PPHS (10-0) offensive onslaught began on the defensive side of the ball as senior Garrett Litchfield returned an interception 46 yards for a touchdown, less than a minute into the game. Point Pleasant found the endzone again with 2:56 remaining in the opening period, when junior Jason Wamsley scored on a three-yard run. Junior place kicker Jason Schultz was 2-for-2 on first quarter extra point kicks and the Big Blacks led 14-0 at the end of the stanza.
PPHS junior Grant Safford broke a 17-yard touchdown run four minutes into the second quarter, with senior Cody Mitchell adding on with a 33-yard touchdown run at the 5:42 mark. Mitchell — a verbal commit to Marshall — scored again at the 5:05 mark of the second, this time from four yards out.
With just over four minutes remaining in the first half, Safford punched into the endzone from the Princeton (5-5) one-yard line, after a long run by Mitchell. Schultz — who was 4-for-4 on point after attempts in the second quarter — kicked a 37-yard field goal with just one second on the clock, sending the Big Blacks into halftime with a 45-0 lead.
Point Pleasant outgained the Tigers 279-to-57 in total offense in the first half, while holding a 16-to-2 advantage in first downs and a 3-0 edge in takeaways.
Mitchell scored twice in the third quarter, first on a three-yard run at the 8:58 mark, and again on a five-yard run at the 2:48 mark. Schultz knocked home both third quarter extra points and PPHS led 59-0.
Point Pleasant sophomore Keshawn Stover broke a 17-yard touchdown run at the 9:58 mark of the fourth quarter that, with Schultz’s extra-point, gave the Big Blacks a 66-0 lead. PPHS, which has won eight straight regular season finales, secured its first shutout of the season by a 66-0 final tally.
For the game, the Big Blacks held a 466-to-52 advantage in total offense, including 423-to-16 on the ground. Point Pleasant had a 25-to-3 advantage in first downs in the game and a 4-to-1 edge in takeaways. The Big Blacks, who punted just once, forced their hosts to punt four times. PPHS was penalized 11 times for a total of 70 yards, while Princeton was flagged six times and sent back 45 yards.
Mitchell, who caught one 17-yard pass and was 1-of-4 passing for 14 yards, charged the victors on the ground with 275 yards and four touchdowns on 20 carries. Safford, who caught one pass for 14 yards, posted 79 yards and two scores on nine rushes in the win.
Stover, who completed his lone pass attempt for minus-1 yard, rushed for 46 yards and one score on three attempts, while Cason Payne, who was 4-of-10 passing for 30 yards, gained 16 yards on four carries. Austin Flowers had one 10-yard run, Sheb Harris added eight yards on two carries, while Nathan Bowman carried the ball once for five yards. PPHS senior Jordan Cunningham hauled in two passes for 17 yards, while Bowman and Jocelynn Wilson both caught one pass for negative yardage.
Kevin Phillips led Princeton on the ground with 19 yards on seven attempts, followed by Zach Standifur with 13 yards on 10 carries. PHS junior Christian Shafer was 3-of-8 passing for 36 yards with two interceptions in the loss. Phillips caught one pass for 17 yards, Jared Hamm added one 16-yard reception, while Tyler Whitt had one grab for three yards.
The Big Blacks will host a first round playoff game next week against an opponent yet to be determined. This will be Point Pleasant’s seventh straight postseason apperence.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.