Coming off of a four-game losing streak, Portal was in search of a victory, and on Homecoming night, the Panthers were able to pick up a big win over the Claxton Tigers.
The Panthers struck early with two huge touchdowns to set the tone for the rest of the contest. Both teams relied heavily on their running game, and Portal won the battle on the ground and ended up on top, 27-7.
"We got after it, we made a few little mistakes that could have let us put the game away earlier," Portal coach Matt Smith said. "We were able to capitalize on a lot of mistakes we've been making and it was a great win."
Sparks started flying on the opening kickoff when Portal's Malik Williams took back the kick 85 yards to give the Panthers a 6-0 lead following a failed 2-point conversion. Williams was carted off the field last week and some were unsure of how he would perform following the injury.
The Panthers were ready to get the ball back after forcing a three-and-out, but a muffed punt allowed the Tigers to recover and regain control from the 40 yard line. The Panther defense was able to hold on fourth down and keep Claxton off the board.
Portal fullback Darius Huff made the Tigers pay with a 71-yard touchdown run on a burst up the middle to extend their lead to 13-0. Portal forced another three and out and took over from their own 41 yard line.
Panther quarterback Jake Brown threw a pass out to his right that was ruled a lateral which Claxton scooped up to take possession back at the 26 yard line. Claxton worked down the field and was faced with 4th down on the Panther goal line and scored on a sneak up the middle. After the extra point the Tigers were mounting their comeback, 13-7.
After forcing a punt, Claxton ate up several minutes of the clock while only moving the ball about 20 yards with their slow rushing attack. On fourth down, the Tiger punter bobbled the snap and went down on a knee to give the Panthers the ball only 25 yards away from the end zone. Later in the drive, Brown was able to walk in through the middle for his first touchdown of the night.
Both teams came out of halftime flat with neither team being able to pick up substantial yardage. On the second Tiger drive of the second half a deep throw towards the middle of the field was picked off by Carveil McNeal. The Panthers couldn't capitalize on the turnover and were forced to punt it away.
Claxton seemed determined to give up the ball when on the second play of their next drive they fumbled the ball into the hands of a Panther defender, allowing Portal to take over from the 14 yard line. Huff was able to end the drive by spinning off a Tiger defender and lunging into the end zone for his second touchdown.
Following another Claxton punt, Huff showed his speed again as he broke through the middle and scampered for a 66 yard gain before getting pulled down in the red zone. Portal failed to convert on fourth down from the Tiger nine yard line to end the promising drive, which ultimately ended the game.
With the win, Portal improves to 1-4 on the season and is 1-0 in Region 3-A sub-region play. The Panthers will host Savannah Country Day next week.
CHS 7 0 0 0 — 7
PHS 13 7 7 0 — 27
PHS_Williams 85 yard KOR (run failed), 11:47
PHS_Huff 71 yard run (Bowen kick), 4:48
CHS_Beasley 1 yard run (kick good), 1:32
PHS_Brown 1 yard run (Bowen kick), 3:40
PHS_Huff 1 yard run (Bowen kick), 0:27
First downs 16 13
Total Yards 185 258
Rushes-Yards 42-181 29-242
Passing 4 16
Comp-Att-Int 1-8-1 1-8-0
Turnovers 2 2
Penalties-Yards 9-70 6-50
RUSHING_CHS: Small 24-138; PHS: Huff 14-187, 2 TDs
Passing_CHS: Beasley 1-8-4; PHS: Brown 1-8-16