A new football season brings with it high hopes for all teams. Friday the Portal Panthers host Montgomery County, and while head coach Matt Smith was hoping a mixture of returning linemen, and talented young skill position players would cook up a victory, it was the much of the same issues from a year ago resurfacing as a recipe for disaster as the Panthers fell 40-15.
The Portal Panther kicked off the 2020 football season Friday night with high hopes, but Montgomery County flexed their offensive muscles early and often, jumping out to a 27-7 lead and then cruising on for the victory.
Portal head coach Matt Smith was concerned about the number of athletes the Eagles returned at the skill positions, and the Eagles proved to be tough to handle accounting for over 400 yards of offense in the game.
“They really killed us with big plays,” Smith said. “We played a lot of young guys on defense, and it really showed tonight. They had a couple better athletes than we did on the field, and that really made a difference tonight.”
Portal had their moments on the offensive side of the football, but Eagle quarterback Bo Davidson shredded the Panther secondary for most of the first half. Davidson was 10-11 for 176 yards through the air with one touchdown, and rushed for another 42 yards and two scores.
“We looked at a lot of him on tape from a year ago, and he’s really talented,” Smith said. “He plays with a lot of composure, and is athletic enough but he really doesn't make mistakes.”
The Eagles started the scoring on their opening possession. Montgomery County went 51 yards on eight plays with Davidson capping the drive with a 6-yard touchdown run. The extra point failed and Montgomery County took a 6-0 lead.
On their next series Davidson capped a four play drive with a 75-yard touchdown pass to Xavier Brantley. The 2-point conversion run by Brandon Denmark extended the lead to 14-0 with 6:33 left in the first quarter.
The Panther finally got on the board on a reverse to Wilken Washington. He cut across the field 19-yards for the touchdown. The extra point by Jose Sanchez cut the lead to 14-7.
From there the Eagles reeled off two more scores to grab a 27-7 halftime lead. Davidson scored on a 1-yard keeper, and Kristain Boyer added a 17-yard touchdown run.
On the Panthers first possession of the second half Brantley picked off Hunter Lanier and went 60-yard on an interception for a touchdown.
The Eagles extended their lead to 40-7 in the fourth on a 1-yard Wesley Hutcheson touchdown run. Portal didn’t quit as they answered with another Washington touchdown. Lanier capped the game scoring with a 2-point conversion run.
One bright spot for the Panthers was the running game powered by Wilken and Ivan Washington. Wilken rushed for 94 yards on 12 carries, while Ivan added 68 yards on 14 carries.
“When we strung a few first downs together, I think we really looked good,” said Smith. “The trouble is we are so inconsistent. I thought Wilken and Ivan really ran the ball hard, and our offensive line did have some moments.”
Smith was hopeful that the Panthers could gain some momentum with a win in their opener, now that they started with a loss he is hopeful they can rebound next week.
“We are going to have to see how they respond Monday,” Smith said. “Our guys are more than capable of getting the job done., but it’s a situation where they have to be more consistent every play. They can’t just pick and choose, we need them focused on every play.”
Portal is on the road next Friday at Wheeler County.