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A defensive battle

Claxton tops Portal on pair of 1st half TDs

A defensive battle

A defensive battle

Portal's Marquis Wells, far right, an...

    CLAXTON — Two plays.
    Two plays in the span of 1:11 early in the second quarter resulting in touchdowns for the Claxton Tigers were the difference Friday night as the Portal Panthers fell 13-8 at Claxton’s homecoming game.
    On the second play of the second quarter, facing a third-and-2, Claxton’s Cornelius Taylor rolled out looking to pass. Under duress from the Panthers’ rush, he scrambled to his left and looked as though he was going to be sacked for a loss. However, he was able to spot fullback Evan Creduer wide open on the opposite side of the field in the end zone.
    Taylor turned and threw across the field, and his pass found Creduer over the outstretched Panther defense for an improbable 29-yard touchdown pass.
    Three plays later, with Portal facing a 3rd-and-3, Portal quarterback Evan Street started to his right and, as he was about to cut upfield, Claxton linebacker Tyquan Williams stripped Street of the ball, picked it up and ran 35 yards for a touchdown.
    Other than those two plays, Portal was able to shut down the Claxton offense, which came in averaging more than 22 points per game.
    “We didn’t do what we needed to do tonight,” said Portal Head Coach David NeSmith as his team fell to 1-4-1 on the year and 1-1 in sub-region 3A-A play.
    Claxton, meanwhile, improved to 4-2 overall and 2-0 in 3A-A contests.
    On its second possession of the game, Portal embarked on a 56-yard drive that ate up more than seven minutes of clock. But on 4th-and-1 on the Claxton 24, a false-start penalty pushed the Panthers back 5 yards. Running back Casey Jones was unable to pick up the first down on the next play, and Claxton took possession. Six plays later, Taylor found Credeur for the Tigers’ only offensive touchdown of the night.
    “I thought our defense played as well as they could tonight,” NeSmith said. The Panthers’ defense held Claxton to zero or negative yards on 10 of Claxton’s 51 offensive plays, not including two kneel-downs by Claxton to run out the clock.
    Offensively, the Panthers were led by running back-turned-quarterback Darius Huff. Taking over for Street midway through the game, Huff tallied 73 yards on 14 carries, including a 5-yard scoring run with less than a minute to play in the game to cut the lead to 13-6. His pass to Marquis Wells on the two-point conversion attempt ended the scoring, as the Tigers recovered the onside kick attempt and ran out the clock for the win.
    “Darius provided us with a little spark tonight. He came in and ran really well and did what we needed him to do,” NeSmith said.
    The Tigers were led by Devontay Bacon’s 66 yards on seven carries.
    And while another close loss is tough to take, NeSmith told his players they are really close to being a good team.
    “We’ve just got to keep fighting,” he said.

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