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Jenkins County takes down Portal

Box Score
JCHS    7    0    7    0 — 14
PHS    0    0    0    13 — 13

First Quarter
JCHS_Bonner 10 run (Ruffin kick), 1:55.
Third Quarter
JCHS_Bonner 5 run (Ruffin kick), 2:06.
Fourth Quarter
PHS_Thomas 18 pass from Budgett (Aubrey kick), 7:51.
PHS_Thomas 23 fumble return (kick blocked)

    JCHS    PHS
First Downs    11    11
Total Yards    309    482
Rushes-Yards    41-213    35-122
Passing    33    32
Comp-Att-Int    3-6-0    5-10-1
Turnovers    2    2
Penalties-Yards    16-130    6-45

RUSHING_JCHS, Bonner 19-93, 2 TDs. PHS, Street 9-48.
PASSING_JCHS, Bonner 3-6-33-0-1. PHS, Street 3-4-19-1-0.
RECEIVING_JCHS, Williams, 2-33. PHS, Thomas, 1-18, TD.

PORTAL - On senior day, the Portal Panthers didn't go down without a fight.

Jordan Aubrey's 37-yard field goal attempt with under two minutes remaining was right down the middle, but didn't have enough distance, as Portal fell 14-13 to visiting Jenkins County on Friday at the Portal Athletic Complex.

Senior Trent Thomas scored both Portal touchdowns.

"We came out with a lot of intensity and left it all on the field," the PHS linebacker and wide receiver said. "I've only been here for two years and they've made me feel at home. I'm proud to be a part of this team."

Trailing by a point, the Panthers (2-7, 0-6 Region 3A-A) forced a three-and-out to get the ball back with 4:47 to go in the game. Quarterback Evan Street got wrapped up 8 yards in the backfield, but broke free and weaved his way down the field for a 33-yard gain. Five plays later, on fourth-and-11, Tyler Budgett connected with D'Von Moore to keep the drive alive.

The drive stalled again, and Aubrey's 37-yard try fell harmlessly into the end zone.

"We fought back and gave ourselves a chance to win in the end and it just didn't go our way," Portal head coach Jon Willoughby said. "That's all we can ask. We dug out of a hole. That's what we want, a chance to win. Give yourself a chance, and sooner or later it'll go your way."

Trailing 14-0, the Panthers knocked on the door early in the third quarter when they forced a turnover in Eagles territory. Jacob Hylow sacked Jenkins County quarterback Travis Bonner and knocked the ball loose, and it was recovered by Thomas on the JCHS 21.

The Portal drive stalled on fourth-and-goal from the 5.

Jenkins County (6-3, 2-3) responded with an 11-play, 95-yard drive that was capped off on fourth-and-goal from the 5-yard line with Bonner's second touchdown of the game. Much of the heavy lifting on the drive was done by Tyler Washington, who had runs of 16 and 24 yards.

Bonner led all rushers with 93 yards.

Portal responded with a monster 12-play drive that ended with an 18-yard jump ball from Budgett that was caught for a score by Thomas and cut the JCHS lead to 14-7.

The next play from scrimmage put the Panthers right back in it. Thomas recovered a fumble and ran it back 23 yards to the house.
Aubrey's extra-point try was blocked, leaving Portal behind 14-13.

Jenkins County worked hard on its opening drive to march 51 yards for a score.

Six different Eagles carried the ball on the 10-play drive, and they had to convert on fourth-and-1 and third-and 13, using runs by Bonner and Mike Williams.

Bonner finished off the drive with a 10-yard touchdown run.

Portal turned it over twice in the first half, once on a Will Finch interception and another on a fumble, but Jenkins County didn't capitalize. The Eagles went three-and-out following the fumble and the Panthers' defense held tough on first-and-goal from the 5, forcing a 26-yard field-goal attempt by Keon Ruffin that was missed.

The try was set up by a 31-yard pass from Bonner to Williams.

Portal was out-gained 105-37 in the first half.

Next Friday at 7:30 p.m., Portal will host the loser of Friday's game between Tattnall County and Toombs County. Because of the Class A Power Rankings system and the boost Portal will get from playing a Class AAA school, there's still an outside shot at a playoff berth for the Panthers.

"Whoever is not on this power rankings system is missing out," Willoughby said.

Matt Yogus may be reached at (912) 489-4908.