SHADY SPRING, W.Va. — And then there was one.
The Point Pleasant football team — which has won a state-best 32 straight regular season games — is now one win away from a third consecutive undefeated regular season, after rolling to a 67-12 victory over non-conference host Shady Spring, Friday night in Raleigh County.
The Big Blacks (9-0) wasted little time taking the lead, as senior Cody Mitchell broke a 57-yard touchdown run that concluded at the 11:26 mark of the opening stanza. Mitchell — a verbal commit to Marshall University — scored again at the 7:50 mark of the first, this time on a 32-yard pass from freshman quarterback Cason Payne.
The Tigers (2-6) got on the board for the first time with 5:11 to play in the quarter, as Chase Harper scooped a fumble and rumbled 97 yards for the touchdown. The point after kick failed and Shady Spring still trailed 14-6.
With 3:40 to play in the first quarter, Payne tossed his second touchdown, this time from 11 yards out to junior Grant Safford. Point Pleasant wasn’t finished with the first quarter scoring however, as Mitchell broke a 56-yard touchdown run with just over one minute remaining in the period. PPHS place kicker Jason Schultz was 3-of-4 on first quarter extra point kicks and the Big Blacks led 27-6.
Less than 30 seconds into the second period, Payne called his own number and ran 65 yards for the touchdown. At the 8:08 mark of the second Safford scored on a 21-yard run, giving the Big Blacks a 40-6 lead.
Mitchell scored twice over the remainder of the opening half, first on a 70-yard punt return and then on a 20-yard pass from Payne. Schultz was 3-of-4 on point after kicks in the second and the Big Blacks headed into the break on top 54-6.
In the first half, Point Pleasant outgained Shady Spring 382-to-18 in total offense, despite the Tigers holding a 30-to-16 advantage in offensive plays run. SSHS had minus-22 rushing yards in the opening half, while the Big Blacks ran for 303 yards on just 11 tries. Both teams suffered one first half turnover, and the Big Blacks held a 9-to-2 advantage in first downs.
Point Pleasant’s only third quarter score came at the 8:39 mark, as junior halfback Jason Wamsley found paydirt on a 15-yard run. The Big Blacks scored with 9:27 remaining in regulation, on a 47-yard punt return by Keshawn Stover. Schultz hit 1-of-2 second half extra-point kicks and the Big Blacks led 67-6.
The game’s final score came with 7:50 remaining, as Shady Spring’s Justin Black broke a 42-yard run for six points. The two-point conversion pass failed and the Big Blacks claimed the 67-12 victory. This Point Pleasant’s fourth straight win over the Tigers.
For the game, PPHS held a 492-to-108 advantage in total offense and a 15-to-6 advantage in first downs, despite SSHS holding a 42-to-32 edge in offensive plays. Point Pleasant was penalized nine times for 65 yards, while Shady Spring was sent back eight times for 63 yards. The Big Blacks punted just once in the win, while the Tigers punted the ball away eight times.
Mitchell led the Big Blacks with 155 yards and two touchdowns on five carries, to go with 59 yards and two touchdowns on three receptions. Safford ran the ball eight times for a total of 109 yards and one touchdown, while catching one 11-yard touchdown pass. Payne, who completed all five of his pass attempts, threw for 79 yards and three touchdowns, all in the first half. Payne’s lone rush went 65 yards for a touchdown.
Wamsley had 23 yards and a score on two carries, Stover added 21 yards on three carries, while Nathan Bowman posted 20 yards on three carries. Cody McDaniel had two carries for 12 yards and one reception for nine yards, Sheb Harris had one five-yard rush, while James Musgrave carried the ball twice for a total of three yards.
Black led the Tigers with 98 yards and a score on nine carries, while Joseph Cantley had eight yards on four carries. Jarod Cline was 7-of-14 passing for 140 yards with an interception, while Jonathan Sawyer led SSHS receivers with five grabs for 26 yards.
This is the sixth time so far this season that PPHS has posted over 60 points.
The Big Blacks have a bye week this coming Friday, but will return to the gridiron on November 6, at Princeton. The Princeton Tigers now sit at 5-3 after a sizable loss to Wheeling Park. Shady Spring will stay in county next Friday as the Tigers visit Class AA Liberty.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.