PARKERSBURG, W.Va. — The pursuit of perfection isn’t always pretty.
The Point Pleasant football team survived its biggest test of the season Friday night, as the Big Blacks escaped Wood County with a 27-20 victory over host Parkersburg South.
The Patriots (3-2) struck first as quarterback Garrett Gilkerson connected with Cody Day for a 70-yard touchdown pass just one minute into the game. The two-point conversion pass failed, but Parkersburg South led 6-0.
Point Pleasant (6-0), which is ranked third in Class AAA, answered on the next possession as Cody Mitchell found the endzone from two yards out. Jason Schultz converted the point after kick to give PPHS a 7-6 advantage at the 8:22 mark of the first quarter.
The Big Blacks wasted little time adding to their lead, as junior Grant Safford scored on a 23-yard run with 6:59 left in the first quarter. Shultz added the extra point to give the Big Blacks a 14-6 advantage.
Point Pleasant — which had outscored opponents in the first quarter by a 79-6 margin headed into Friday’s tilt — added one more score in the opening period, as Mitchell broke a 17-yard run for six points. Shultz added the point after and the guests led 21-6 with 39 seconds left in the first quarter.
Parkersburg South cut the deficit to one score at the 9:05 mark of the second quarter when Justin Kemp scored on a three-yard run. Gilkerson added the point after and the Patriots trailed 21-13.
The Big Blacks next drive was cut short as PSHS senior Josh Wolfe intercepted a pass attempt by Mitchell and returned it 42 yards for the score. Gilkerson knocked home the extra point and the Patriots were within one point at 21-20 with 7:02 remaining in the first half.
It remained a one-point game until the 4:04 mark of the fourth quarter when PPHS freshman signal caller Cason Payne completed a 20-yard touchdown pass to senior Tannor Hill. The extra point kick was missed, and the Big Blacks led 27-20.
The hosts failed to answer and Point Pleasant held on for the 27-20 victory, the Big Blacks’ 29th consecutive in the regular season.
Mitchell, who was 2-of-7 passing for nine yards with an interception, led the Big Blacks on the ground with 197 yards and two touchdowns on 22 attempts, while catching one pass for eight yards. Mitchell, a verbal commit to the Marshall Thundering Herd, surpassed the 1,000 yard mark for the season in the with.
Safford, a junior, posted 94 yards and a score on 17 carries for PPHS, while junior Jason Wamsley added 25 yards on two carries. Payne was 3-of-4 passing for 30 yards and a score, while Hill’s lone reception was the 20-yard scoring grab. PPHS senior Garrett Litchfield added nine yards on two receptions, while Cody McDaniel hauled in one pass for two yards.
Gilkerson led the way for the Patriots, completing 15-of-27 passes for 242 yards and a score, while posting 119 yards on 13 carries. Kemp finished with 35 yards and a score on 12 carries, Day marked 121 yards and a touchdown on five receptions, while Cody Boggs caught seven passes for 104 yards.
PPHS held a 17-to-12 advantage in first downs, but was eclipsed in total yards by a 399-to-355 mark. Both teams punted three times and suffered one turnover in the game. The Big Blacks were penalized seven times for a total of 45 yards, while PSHS was sent back 10 times for a total of 75 yards.
The Big Blacks return to Ohio Valley Bank Track and Field Friday night when they host Oak Hill for the annual homecoming game.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.