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Portal battles Claxton Tigers in region game

Portal (1-3-1, 0-0) at Claxton (3-2, 1-0)
7:30 p.m., Today

    The Portal Panthers will look to make it two wins in a row tonight as they travel to the Pecan Grove for a matchup with sub-region foe the Claxton Tigers.
    The Panthers (1-3-1, 1-0) are coming off their first win of the season, a 28-16 victory over Jenkins County, last week. The effects of the win were evident at practice this week, according to head coach David Nesmith.
    “It’s been a good week of practice,” he said. “We’ve had more pep in our step and a better attitude all week.”
    Portal will face a Claxton team coming off an upset victory over Savannah Christian and who has an overall 3-2 record and is 1-0 in sub-region play. The Tigers’ two losses are against Tattnall County and ECI, both of whom also
defeated Portal this year.
    “They’ve got about the same number of kids on their roster as we do, about 31 or 32,” Nesmith said. “They’ve got a big offensive and defensive line and some pretty good linebackers.”
    Offensively, Claxton runs a Wing-T out of the pistol formation and is led by quarterback Cornelius Taylor, who Nesmith described as “a very good athlete.” He ran for two touchdowns against Savannah Christian last week, including the game winner.
    Portal will once again rely on their linebackers as well as a healthy Jamison Mikell to anchor the defensive line in an attempt to slow down the Claxton attack that has averaged more than 30 points per game in their three wins. In their two losses, the Tigers have averaged 10 points per contest.
    “They’ve got the ability to run the ball. It’s going to be a touch match-up,” Nesmith said.
    Defensively, the Tigers will come out in a 3-5 approach on defense that Nesmith said can resemble a 5-3 when looking at it. Portal’s spread option attack will need to continue to execute and eliminate penalties tonight.
    “We had a holding penalty that called back a touchdown last week and another penalty kept us from getting a first down,” Nesmith said. “We’ve got to fix those.”
    Portal’s offense is directed by quarterback Evan Street and a host of running backs. Last week it was Malik Williams who led the way with 129 yards and two touchdowns for the Panthers. Quantae Williams and Casey Jones are among the others in the Panther backfield who have contributed recently.
    Cutting down on the penalties and tunovers has been a constant theme for the Panthers this year and until last week’s game which saw Portal draw 10 penalty flags for 70 yards, they’d been improving on that front.
    “We want to take steps for improvement each week and if we do that, we’ll have a chance,” Nesmith said.
    Kickoff is set for 7:30 in Claxton.