POINT PLEASANT, W.Va. — Eventually, the turnover bug took a big bite out of the Big Blacks.
The Point Pleasant football team committed four fourth quarter turnovers that led to 28 straight points and allowed visiting Linsly to cruise to a 49-21 victory on Friday night in a Week 7 non-conference matchup at Ohio Valley Bank Track and Field in Mason County.
The Big Blacks (1-3) appeared poised for a Homecoming upset as the hosts built a 14-0 lead 19 seconds into the second period while never trailing in the first half.
The Cadets (7-0), however, needed only two plays and 50 seconds to cover 58 yards while trimming that deficit in half at 14-7 — where the score remained headed into the break.
The Orange and Black rallied to tie things early in the third stanza, then took a permanent lead with 25 seconds left in the frame as a Marc Kaufmann 4-yard run made it a 21-14 contest entering the finale.
The Red and Black followed with turnovers on their next four offensive possessions, all of which resulted in Cadet touchdown drives within a 6-minute window. When the smoke cleared, Linsly was holding a substantial 49-14 advantage with 5:54 left in regulation.
The Big Blacks put together one last offensive strike as Tyler Hinzman scored on a 1-yard run with 28 seconds left, completing the 28-point outcome.
It wasn’t as much a tale of two halves as it was the difference turnovers can make, especially in looking at the final numbers of the game.
Point Pleasant claimed an 18-12 advantage in first downs and outgained the guests by a 368-246 overall margin in total yards of offense, which also included a resounding 316-131 edge in rushing yards.
In the first half, the Big Blacks held a 210-95 advantage in total yards and an 11-4 cushion in first downs — and neither squad committed a turnover.
The game plan was to use up clock by grinding out yards on the ground, and that plan worked to near perfection for the better part of three quarters of play.
However, facing a pivotal fourth-and-1 at the Linsly 41 — the Big Blacks were unable to pick up the yard necessary to move the chains. The Cadets took over on downs with 2:30 left in a 14-all contest … and everything started going wrong for Point Pleasant from there.
PPHS coach David Darst admitted afterwards that his troops executed the game plan to near perfection for the well over a half, but the venerable mentor also noted that Linsly ultimately made the big plays down the stretch that won this contest.
In the end, though, Darst was pleased with the overall effort — something that will again be needed next week when Point hosts Ohio-based Louisville (4-3).
“I’m proud of the way our kids came out and prepared for the ball game this week. The kids worked hard at the game plan and they came out and executed that game plan pretty well early on. We wanted to slow things down and control the pace, and we did that in the first half,” Darst said. “The fourth down and one that we didn’t convert in the third quarter was huge because it was 14-all at the time. We convert that play, momentum is probably back in our favor at that point. We followed with our turnovers from there, and boom … we were done.
“We have to put this one behind us because we have another good football team coming in here next week. We’ll just have to keep preparing like we have been and keep battling to be a better football team next Friday.”
The Big Blacks took the opening kickoff and marched 76 yards in 14 plays, with Brady Adkins capping the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run. Elicia Wood tacked on the first of her three successful PAT kicks for a 7-0 edge with 5:44 left in the first quarter.
Linsly marched the ball down to the Point 21 before losing possession on downs, then the hosts answered with a 3-play, 79-yard scoring drive that ended with a Jovone Johnson 67-yard scamper around the left side for a 14-point cushion with 11:41 remaining in the first half.
The Cadets answered with a 2-play, 58-yard scoring drive that ended with a 29-yard scoring pass from Hunter Kelley to Kobe Hill, making it a 14-7 contest at the 10:51 mark of the second period.
Both teams traded punts the rest of the half, allowing Point Pleasant to enter the break with a 7-point advantage.
Linsly opened the second half with a 5-play, 63-yard scoring drive that was capped with a 35-yard TD pass from Kelley to Trevin Tush for a 14-all contest with 9:54 remaining in the third.
Both teams traded a punt apiece, then the Big Blacks came up short on their fourth-and-1 chance inside Linsly territory — giving the guests possession at their own 41 with 2:30 left in the stanza.
The Orange and Black covered 59 yards in seven plays, with Kaufmann capping things with a 4-yard run — giving Linsly its first lead of the game with 25 seconds left in the third.
Florian Hirsch sacked PPHS quarterback Hunter Bush in the end zone on the first play of the fourth quarter, but the ball came loose before Bush went down to the ground. Chance Knight picked up the fumble in the end zone and gave the guests a 28-14 edge nine seconds into the finale.
On its ensuing drive, Point had its second play from scrimmage result in an interception as Luca DiLorenzo picked off a pass and returned it down to the PPHS 3.
Tush needed only one carry to cover the distance as his 3-yard run extended the lead out to 35-14 with 11:05 left in regulation.
The Big Blacks committed another fumble four plays into their next possession, which gave Linsly the ball at the Point 27. Five plays later, Kaufmann scored on an 8-yard scamper that ballooned the lead out to 42-14 with 7:05 remaining.
The final Point Pleasant fumble was picked up by Kelley and returned 45 yards to the house, giving the guests a 49-14 advantage with 5:54 left in the game.
Johnson led the PPHS ground attack with 129 yards on nine carries, followed by Adkins with 71 yards on 20 attempts.
Bush completed 6-of-8 passes for 115 yards. Nick Parsons led the wideouts with four grabs for 43 yards.
Kelley paced Linsly with 62 rushing yards on 10 attempts and also completed 7-of-13 passes for 115 yards. Hill led the wideouts with four catches for 56 yards.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.