SAVANNAH — Savannah Country Day dominated the line of scrimmage and got three field goals from Colton Lichtenberg to all but ruin Portal’s playoff hopes with a 17-14 win Friday night at Saunders Field.
The Panthers (2-5-1, 2-2) led 14-6 at the half in the Region 3A-A contest, but could muster up only 24 yards of offense in the second half in losing to the Hornets (4-3, 3-2) for the seventh straight season. Portal has not beaten SCD since 2004.
Coach David NeSmith would not rule his Panthers out of the playoff chase, but with only powerful Calvary Day left to play next week he conceded it looked grim for his team.
“They whipped us up front,” NeSmith said. “They came out (second half) and shut us down.
“Our game plan was to run the ball to keep them off the field,” NeSmith said. “We just didn’t get it done. We had to have this one. Calvary is the best team in the region, and we are going to have to have some things go our way.”
The Panthers controlled the ball and the clock in the first half and, although they prefer to run the football, scored both of their touchdowns on passing plays.
After Lichtenberg gave the Hornets a 3-0 lead with a 37-yard field goal in the first quarter Portal rebounded to go up 7-3 when Evan Street hit Trent Thomas with a perfectly thrown 27-yard scoring strike with 9 minutes left in the half.
On their next possession the Panthers moved the ball 86 yards and scored on a 10-yard pass from Street to Marquis Wells with 40 seconds on the clock.
Savannah Country Day, however, got a 40-yard field goal from Lichtenberg on the final play of the half and then tied the game on its first possession of the second half when quarterback Hunter Hatley ran 9 yards for a touchdown, and then ran up the middle for the two-point conversion.
Lichtenberg, a junior who is one of the top kickers in the area, showed why he is already drawing the attention of college scouts when he drilled a 51-yarder with plenty of room to spare to give the Hornets their first lead of the night at 17-14 with 3:18 left in the third quarter.
“That was impressive,” NeSmith said. “It puts a lot of pressure on your defense once they reach the 30.”
The Panthers had 190 yards total offense in the first half, 125 yards rushing, but could gain only 19 yards on the ground in the second half as the Hornet defensive line controlled the line of scrimmage.