In becoming just the eighth high school football team in the country to reach 800 victories, the Parkersburg Big Reds did it the way they had done it so many times before - with defense.
Over the 100-plus years of PHS football history that has seen the school become among the nation's elite grid programs. defense has been at the front of that winning tradition and championship teams. Against the host Warren Warriors the Big Reds went back to their roots as they pulled off a 41-22 victory that was not as close as the final score indicated.
Using an aggressive defense led by end Max Chefren, the Big Reds completely bottled up the Warren offense. With 8 minutes left in the game and holding a 35-2 lead, the PHS defense had held the home team to just two first downs and minus (that's right minus) 35 yards in total offense.
They had sacked the Warren quarterback five times (three of them by Chefren, who also had a fumble recovery touchdown and a pass batted down to go with his team-leading tackle total). There were 13 tackles for loss, six quarterback hurries, and an interception return for a touchdown.
The only points allowed by the first defensive unit came with 5:47 left in the game when it took Warren to five plays to score following a fumble return to the PHS two yard line. Warren did not get out of the negative yardage category until the final minute when it put together a 65 yard scoring driving against the PHS second unit.
Meanwhile, Jordan Colebank scored two touchdowns for the Big Reds, one on a 51 yard pass from Dan Fox on just the second offensive play of the game for PHS. His other TD came on a 69 yard interception return in the third quarter.
Fox, moved to a wingback spot this year, was the leading rusher for the Big Reds with 82 yards on seven yards and a touchdown while Noah Weaver, filling in for the injured Corey Burdette, ran for 60 yards on 17 carries and also had a touchdown. The other PHS touchdown came when Josh Trembly hit Austin Life for a 31 yard catch-and-run play in the fourth quarter.
PHS finished with 160 yards on the ground and 125 through the air (completing six of 10 passes). The visitors had 16 first downs while Warren finished with six chain movers (4 of them late in the game). Warren completed six of 13 passes for 43 yards and wound up with two net yards rushing on 27 attempts.
Life finished with three catches for 39 yards while Chase Shank was the second-leading tackler on defense.
While Colebank got behind the Warren secondary for an easy 51 yard TD reception just 2:42 into the contest, the second PHS score came after a tremendous catch from Brannon Turner, who went high in the air to take the ball away from a would-be defender for a 33 yard completion that was the big play on an 8-play, 62 yard drive mid-way through the second quarter.
Then the PHS defense showed off its scoring punch with Chefren picking up a fumble after a bad pitch and going 22 yards for a touchdown with 6:08 left in the first half to make it 21-2.
The Big Reds added another score just two minutes before intermission when Fox went around left end for 27 yards to set up Weaver's six yard run over the right side.
The second half saw the Big Red offense play ball control by running 10 more plays than Warren (23-13) and got another defensive score in the third quarter on Colebank's pick-six to run the score to 35-2 with 8:03 left in the third quarter.
That put a new Ohio high school football rule into effect as the clock now runs continuously with a 30 point lead.
But Warren got two scores in the span of less that two minutes in the middle of the fourth quarter to make the game interesting. The first came on a fumble return of 45 yards and the second came on a fumble on the ensuing kickoff which was ran to the two yard line and then punched in although it took five plays to do so against a fired-up PHS prevent unit.
The final PHS TD came on an 80 yard drive that took nine plays and ate 4:13 off the clock. Big runs of 14 and 20 yards by Fox and Trembly set up Life's TD catch with 1:34 on the clock to end Warren's comeback hopes.
Warren's last score came with 54 seconds left in the contest.
Score by Quarters 1 2 3 4 Total
Parkersburg Big Reds 7 21 7 6 41
Warren Warriors 2 0 0 20 22
Qtr Time Scoring play
1st 09:18 PHS - Jordan Colebank 51 yd pass from Dan Fox (Josh Roney kick), 2-52 0:41
05:45 WARREN - Tanner Huck, safety
2nd 07:12 PHS - Dan Fox 5 yd run (Josh Roney kick), 8-62 3:22
06:08 PHS - Max Chefren 22 yd fumble recovery (Josh Roney kick)
02:09 PHS - Noah Weaver 6 yd run (Josh Roney kick), 5-51 1:58
3rd 08:03 PHS - Jordan Colebank 69 yd interception return (Josh Roney kick)
4th 07:39 WARREN - Michael Smith 45 yd fumble recovery (Robert Fish kick)
05:47 WARREN - Jared Isner 1 yd run (Robert Fish kick), 4-2 1:42
01:34 PHS - Austin Life 31 yd pass from Josh Trembly (Chase Minnite kick blockd), 9-80 4:13
00:54 WARREN - Jared Isner 24 yd run (Robert Fish kick failed), 4-65 0:40
FIRST DOWNS 16 6
RUSHES-YARDS (NET) 41-160 27-2
PASSING YDS (NET) 125 43
Passes Att-Comp-Int 10-6-0 13-6-1
TOTAL OFFENSE PLAYS-YARDS.. 51-285 40-45
Fumble Returns-Yards 1-22 1-45
Punt Returns-Yards 0-0 0-0
Kickoff Returns-Yards 1-0 7-95
Interception Returns-Yards 1-69 0-0
Punts (Number-Avg) 2-15.0 6-35.7
Fumbles-Lost 3-2 1-1
Penalties-Yards............ 8-55 4-33
Possession Time 25:39 22:21
Third-Down Conversions 6 of 9 0 of 9
Fourth-Down Conversions 2 of 2 0 of 1
Red-Zone Scores-Chances 2-2 1-1
Sacks By: Number-Yards 5-53 2-14
RUSHING: Big Reds-Dan Fox 7-82; Noah Weaver 17-60; Chase Shank 9-22; Josh Trembly 8-minus 4. Warriors-Jared Isner 10-50; Jake Davis 1-15; Seth Balderson 1-5; Tanner Huck 2-4; Mark McDermott 1-3; Derrick Carey 3-2; Andrew Henthorn 9-minus 77.
PASSING: Big Reds-Josh Trembly 5-9-0-74; Dan Fox 1-1-0-51. Warriors-Andrew Henthorn 6-12-1-43; Bryce Gandee 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING: Big Reds-Austin Life 3-39; Jordan Colebank 1-51; Brannon Turner 1-33; Chase Shank 1-2. Warriors-Jared Isner 3-25; Derrick Carey 1-9; Cole Wigal 1-8; Andy Farnsworth 1-1.
INTERCEPTIONS: Big Reds-Jordan Colebank 1-69. Warriors-None.
FUMBLES: Big Reds-Chase Shank 2-1; Rylan Hamilton 1-1. Warriors-Andrew Henthorn 1-1.
SACKS (UA-A): Big Reds-Max Chefren 3-0; Austin Griffith 1-0. Warriors-Colin Welch 2-0.
TACKLES (UA-A): Big Reds-Max Chefren 5-5; Chase Shank 2-4; Tyler Greathouse 0-6; Nick Johnson 3-1; Jordan Colebank 2-1; Austin Brown 1-3; Charley Conley 1-2; Zach Carroll 2-0; Austin Griffith 1-1; Josh Trembly 0-2; Cory Woodford 1-0; Alex Lott 1-0; Dan Fox 2-1; Zavian Peacock 1-0; Austin Life 0-1; Noah Weaver 1-0; Jesse JcGrew 0-1; Easton Martin 0-1; G. Nesselrode 0-1.