PLYMOUTH — It’s no secret Black River’s football team is going to run the ball, but the pass has always been far from a constant in the playbook.
That changed Friday night, as Black River followed its dominance on the ground with an impressive performance through the air en route to an efficient 38-3 non-league win over Plymouth.
While the three-headed monster of Jacob Campbell, Travis Sexton and Riley Gibbs had its usual strong night for the Pirates (3-0), junior quarterback Riley Bartolic and the receivers came to play.
“This is the first we’ve ever passed the ball more than five times, or something like that,” said Gibbs, whose team threw four times over the first two weeks. “It was working all night. It’s great to have that extra side to us now, since we’re known for running. Now we have this in our back pocket.”
Gibbs was in the middle of all of it, as the 5-foot-8, 175-pound senior not only ran efficiently on sweeps, but also was the beneficiary of the newly found passing game.
The multi-talented Gibbs finished with 209 yards from scrimmage, with 131 and a touchdown on five carries and another score coming on one of his three catches.
“It’s really nice that we have a passing game right now, but it’s all a credit to the line,” Gibbs said. “On that second one, there was just one guy out there. Credit to the line and Jake Campbell and Sexton on the fakes. It’s just really nice being able to catch the ball now instead of always running it.”
Gibbs opened with a 55-yard untouched scamper around end and followed with a pair of second-half scores, a 60-yard counter and 26-yard reception from Bartolic (7-for-11, 160 yards) in which he was wide open in the middle of the end zone.
The balanced attack also included strong nights from Campbell (22 carries, 77 yards, 2 TDs) and Sexton (10, 60, TD), which kept the Plymouth defense off balance all night.
The Pirates went a perfect 6-for-6 on drives.
“(Gibbs) is a good football player,” said Black River coach Al Young, whose team is off to its first 3-0 start since 2011. “He’s very balanced, but all three of those guys just balance each other out and do a really good job of complementing each other.
“(Sexton) had a really good game and he’s just solid, (Gibbs) is the same thing and Jacob is Jacob (Campbell). He’s going to go in there and get his yards.”
Bartolic, playing his second game of the season after an elbow injury forced him to miss the opener, had the benefit of his first full week of practice and it showed.
The signal caller ran the option offense to perfection and sped up a game that was slowed to a crawl when the Big Red held the ball for 7 minutes and waited until the last second to snap the ball on each play.
“I thought he started to look really good tonight,” Young said. “He made some very, very nice throws. He then started running the ball a bit, and that’s going to be a huge part of our offense.
“They did some things that we weren’t used to. You come out foot-to-foot like that and then they hold the ball until the final seconds, we were ready for that offense, but not ready for that style. The kids did well once we got started.”
Due to an electrical issue with the scoreboard, Plymouth used a small board in the corner of the near end zone that it borrowed from Lexington High.
Contact Dan Brown at email@example.com.
Black River 38,
BLACK RIVER 6 12 13 7 — 38
PLYMOUTH 0 0 0 3 — 3
B — Riley Gibbs 55 run (run failed), 4:07.
B — Jacob Campbell 2 run (run failed), 9:48.
B — Travis Sexton 5 run (pass failed), 0:59.
B — Campbell 6 run (run failed), 8:19.
B — Gibbs 60 run (Spencer Constable kick), 3:46.
P — Austin Roblin 26 field goal, 6:15.
B — Gibbs 26 pass from Riley Bartolic (Constable kick), 4:11.