RIPLEY, W.Va. — Regardless of the margin of victory, the streak continues.
The Point Pleasant football team won the Battle of the Oaken Bucket by a 19-17 count over host Ripley — on Friday night in Jackson County — giving the Big Blacks’ their 35th consecutive regular season triumph. This is the smallest margin of victory during Point Pleasant’s state-best streak, and in fact it’s the only game that has been decided by less than a touchdown.
The Big Blacks (2-0) — who’ve won 19 straight regular season games on the road —put the game’s first points on the board at the 7:06 mark of the opening period, when sophomore signal caller Cason Payne broke a 73-yard run for a touchdown. The extra point kick failed, however, leaving the Big Blacks with a 6-0 lead.
Less than three minutes later, Point Pleasant was on the board again. This time it was senior Grant Safford that found paydirt from 38-yards out. Jason Schultz kicked home the extra point, giving PPHS a 13-0 advantage with 4:08 left in the first quarter.
Ripley (1-1) was blanked in the first period, but got on the board with 4:27 left in the second, when senior Chase Morgan scored on a five-yard run. Morgan’s run was followed by a successful kick by Ryan Shatto, cutting Point Pleasant’s lead to 13-7.
With just five seconds left in the first half, Shatto cut Ripley’s deficit to three with a 34-yard field goal.
After the half, Point Pleasant got back on the board with a 33-yard field goal by Schultz, making the Big Blacks’ lead 16-10 with 8:31 left in the third quarter.
The Vikings tied the game at 16 with 4:12 left in the third quarter, as senior Chance Morgan scored on a two-yard run. Shatto’s kick spilt the uprights, giving the hosts a 17-16 advantage and their first lead of the game.
Ripley held the one-point advantage through the end of the third quarter, but with 7:34 remaining in the regulation, Schultz made a 20-yard field goal to give PPHS the 19-17 lead.
RHS didn’t have an answer and the Big Blacks held on for the two-point victory.
This is the fourth consecutive win over Ripley for PPHS. The Big Blacks now hold a 52-23-1 record in the all-time series between these teams, which began in 1934.
Just six yards separated the two offenses, as the Big Blacks held a 277-to-271 advantage in total offense. All but 12 of Point Pleasant’s yards came on the ground, giving the guests a 265-to-224 edge in rushing yards. The Big Blacks’ 10 first downs were five fewer than the hosts, but PPHS committed one turnover, while forcing two. Both teams punted four times.
Ripley was flagged 11 times for 83 yards, while Point Pleasant committed just four penalties for a total of 37 yards.
Safford carried the load for Point Pleasant offensively, rushing for 139 yards and one score on 19 attempts. Payne — who was 2-of-6 passing for 12 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions — ran for 119 yards and one score on 12 attempts.
Josh Wamsley and Sheb Harris rounded out Point Pleasant’s running game with four and three yards respectively on one carry apiece.
For PPHS receivers, Alec Smith had one grab for seven yards, while Jason Wamsley caught one pass for five yards.
For Ripley, quarterback Brayden Campbell led the ground attack with 75 yards on 13 totes, followed by Chance Morgan with 60 yards on 20 carries, and Chase Morgan with 45 yards on 12 carries. Rocky Ford had 30 yards on three carries, Ty Eshenaur added 11 yards on a trio of attempts, while Robert Evans ran once for three yards.
Campbell was 4-of-14 passing for 47 yards with one interception. Four Vikings caught one pass in the loss, led by Anthony Jarvis with a 17-yard reception. Chase Morgan caught a 16-yard pass, Chance Morgan hauled in a 13-yard pass, while Eshenaur gained one yard on his reception.
PPHS will be at Ohio Valley Bank Track and Field for its home opener against Gallia Academy, next Friday.
Ripley will look to bounce back against Riverside, when the Vikings visit the Warriors next Friday.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.