POINT PLEASANT, W.Va. — No championship, just a win … all thanks to defense.
The Point Pleasant football team overcame three turnovers, made a pair of impressive goal-line stands before halftime and limited previously unbeaten Man to just 97 yards of total offense Friday night en route to a hard-fought 7-0 victory at Ohio Valley Bank Track and Field in Mason County.
The Big Blacks (2-4) snapped a 3-game losing skid while picking up their first home triumph of the 2019 campaign, which also happened to coincide with improving to 3-0 in their latest Wendy’s Friday Night Rivals game of the week television appearance.
The Red and Black had two costly first half mistakes, both of which could have very easily ended up working against the hosts — but didn’t.
After five consecutive 3-and-out drives to start regulation, PPHS had just picked up the first first down of the game with 2:24 left in the first quarter.
One play later, Colton Frye recovered a fumble caused by a sack — allowing the Hillbillies (7-1) to take over possession at their own 47.
Three plays later, however, MHS returned the favor by throwing an interception on the first snap of the second quarter. Jovone Johnson picked off the pass and returned the ball back to the PPHS 24.
Both teams traded a punt apiece from there, then the Big Blacks were facing a punting situation when the ball was dropped after the snap. Man ultimately made the fourth down tackle and took over possession at the PPHS 9-yard line.
Facing a third-and-goal at the one, Point Pleasant made a pair of key defensive stands that resulted in a loss of downs — allowing the hosts to keep things scoreless while taking over possession with 3:58 left until halftime.
The Blue and Red, however, forced a fumble on Point’s ensuing drive, leading to a fresh set of downs at the PPHS 29 with 2:24 remaining.
Facing a fourth-and-4 at the five, Man’s pass attempt came up empty. The turnover on downs allowed the Big Blacks to grind out the final 55 seconds as both teams went into the locker room scoreless.
Point Pleasant held a 76-50 advantage in total yards at the break, as well as a 4-1 edge in first downs. Man’s only first down, coincidentally, came at the 2:16 mark of the second stanza.
MHS kicker Sam Milton recovered his own onside kick to start the second half, but the first three drives of the third quarter ultimately resulted in punts.
The hosts took over at their own nine with 3:28 left in the third, then marched 91 yards in a dozen plays to score what ended up being the only points of the night.
Facing a second-and-goal at the four, quarterback Evan Roach called his own number and rumbled four yards behind a stout line surge — giving PPHS a 6-0 edge.
Kicker Elicia Wood remained perfect on the season by converting her 13th straight point-after try for a 7-0 lead with 9:36 left in regulation.
The Hillbillies had two more possessions and came up empty on both, with the last one ending on a Colby Price sack while facing a fourth-and-16.
Point Pleasant picked up a first down while grinding the final two minutes of regulation off the clock, giving the Big Blacks their second shutout victory of the year in the process.
Overall, the Red and Black claimed a 195-97 advantage in total offense, including a 162-39 advantage in rushing yards. The hosts also claimed a 9-6 edge in first downs.
It wasn’t pretty, at least from an offensive standpoint, but PPHS coach David Darst was more than thrilled with how his defensive unit played against an unbeaten program that was averaging over 44 points per game.
“I’m just proud of the kids because they haven’t quit on us. We probably aren’t going to make the playoffs for the first time in 12 years, but they are out there on that field still having fun. That’s what makes this one so special,” Darst said. “These guys, they want to prove that we are still worthy of being a playoff team in West Virginia. If we were fortunate enough to have a normal West Virginia schedule, that might still be the case.
“These guys still know how to win football games. When we had to have it tonight, we got it done. We played four really good quarters of football tonight against a pretty good opponent tonight. We really needed this one.”
It was the fourth straight shutout victory that Point Pleasant has posted against Man in the all-time series. The Big Blacks also improved to 7-1 all-time while notching their sixth consecutive win.
Brady Adkins — who was named the Wendy’s Friday Night Rivals most valuable player — led the hosts with 90 rushing yards on 15 carries.
Roach added 79 yards and the lone score on 23 attempts, plus completed 3-of-5 passes for eight yards. Hunter Bush also completed his lone pass attempt for 25 yards.
Johnson led the Red and Black wideouts with two catches for 19 yards. Adkins and Nick Parsons also caught one pass each for seven yards apiece.
Zack Frye led the Man rushing attack with 23 yards on six carries. Caleb Milton completed 6-of-17 passes for 58 yards, including one interception. Zack Frye also hauled in a team-best four passes for 29 yards.
Point Pleasant completes its 2019 regular season home schedule on Friday when it welcomes Ripley for a non-conference matchup at 7:30 p.m.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.