Backup tailback burns PHS

PARKERSBURG -Parkersburg might take a pass on George Washington’s first-string running back if the Patriots’ back-up delivers numbers like he did Friday night at Stadium Field.

With Draven Riffe sitting out for the second straight game with a leg injury, his replacement Jacob Jackson rushed for 386 yards on 31 carries and scored five touchdowns as sixth-ranked George Washington defeated the Big Reds, 54-17.

PHS drops to 2-6, while George Washington virtually assures itself a playoff berth at 7-1.

“They have some talent,” PHS coach Don Reeves said. “We knew whoever they put at tailback were still going to be pretty good because they are pretty solid up front. We had trouble getting off the blocks and then we turn the ball over and hurt ourselves.”

After George Washington built a 27-3 halftime advantage, PHS dug itself in a deeper hole as George Washington scored touchdowns on its first four possessions of the second half. Jackson found the end zone twice on runs of 3 and 33 yards. His final carry of 9 yards ended in a takeaway as PHS’ Stephen Dailey wound up with the ball with just less than nine minutes still remaining in the game.

“We’ve been able to pick up the slack when we’ve had guys injured,” George Washington coach Steve Edwards said. “Our kids are bailing a man out. That’s our theme around here.

“We don’t dwell on injuries and our kids have just responded.”

Parkersburg’s opening possession looked promising, chewing up four minutes off the clock and flirting with red zone territory before Corey Burdette fumbled after a short gain.

George Washington took over at its own 12 and over the course of the next three possessions the Patriots rolled up 21 points.

“We knew Parkersburg was going to try and control the football,” Edwards said. “We were fortunate to get a turnover and take advantage of it.”

The first touchdown was set up by Jackson’s carry on third-and-two. On the handoff, he sprinted down the right sidelines, cut back across the grain and was finally tackled by Chandler Hamilton at the Big Red 3 for a 63-yard gain.

Two plays later, with a Patriot holding penalty in between, Jackson scored from 6 yards. PHS blocked the point after and George Washington led 6-0 at the 5:29 mark of the first quarter.

PHS turned the ball over on downs on the ensuing possession, giving George Washington possession at its own 38. The Patriots put together a sustained drive lasting 13 plays. In the early stages of the second quarter, George Washington punched it in on Jackson’s 5-yard run.

For the second series in a row, PHS failed to convert a first down and the Patriots made quick work following the punt. On the second play of the drive, Jackson broke through a gap at the line of scrimmage and again through another seam at the second line of defense for a 53-yard touchdown run.

PHS countered with a 27-yard field goal from Josh Roney with 3:50 remaining before halftime to cut the deficit to 21-3.

That left ample time for George Washington to score one more time before intermission as Jonathan Alexander converted the draw play to perfection and a 35-yard touchdown run at the 1:16 mark. The extra point was blocked for the second time as the Patriots led 27-3.

“It’s the same story in the MSAC – there are game-breakers and guys they can throw to who can put 60 yards on you real quick,” Reeves said. “We need confidence in all that we do. We had some guys who stepped up that had been injured and fought to the end.”

PHS scored twice after intermission on a Josh Trembly 17-yard run and a Dylan Thomas 5-yard burst. Corey Burdette led the Big Reds with 79 yards rushing on 17 carries, while Thomas added 61 yards on six attempts.