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Portal crushes Wheeler County

PORTAL – The roots of Portal’s first win of the season can be traced back to their loss last week to Jenkins County. There the Panthers played well for three quarters but were unable to finish out the game with a win.
But Head Coach Matt Smith took the positives from that game, simplified his offensive scheme to focus on fewer elements of the game. That approach proved to be the correct one as the Panthers dominated both sides of the ball in a 45-22 win.
The Panthers (1-3) jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first half behind the running combination of the brothers Ware. Sophomore Brian Ware capped of the Panthers’ opening 70-yard drive with an 18-yard run to open the scoring.
Not to be outdone, senior Craig Ware added a 12-yard run on Portal’s second drive to extend the lead to 14-0.
After that, the Panther’s defense took control, forcing two Bulldog turnovers after Wheeler County had driven deep into Portal territory.
While the defense was keeping Wheeler County off the scoreboard, the Panther offense struggled in the second quarter until a reverse to junior Devante White led to a 52-yard run to give the Panthers an excellent scoring opportunity.
Three plays later, the younger Ware dashed off a 15-yard touchdown run to give the Panthers a seemingly comfortable 21-0 lead.
On Wheeler County’s first play following the kickoff, Brandon Mackey was able to pull the Bulldogs to within 21-6 win an 80-yard run that saw him break through the Panthers’ front and outrun everyone to the endzone.
But Portal responded on their first play from scrimmage with the elder Ware racing 52-yards for the third consecutive play with a touchdown and giving Portal a 28-6 halftime lead.
“We really focused on our base plays,” Smith said of practice leading up to the Wheeler County game. “I think we only ran about four or five plays on offense all night.”
Those plays were all the Panthers needed as they were able to establish their running game early and keep pounding the ball on the ground. On the night, Portal ran for 482 yards.
“We were able to find a weak spot and we just kept attacking that,” Smith said.
Following a 10 play drive to open the third quarter that ended with a Carson Davis field goal, the Panthers were able to hold the Bulldogs scoreless on their next possession, which lasted into the fourth quarter.
With the big lead, Smith was able to get some of his second-string players some action and they got in on the fun.
Charlie Drummer and Devante White were able to add rushing touchdowns in the fourth quarter and while Wheeler County was able to move the ball and score, it wasn’t enough and the Panthers cruised to the win.
“We’ve been getting better all season so it was finally nice to get a win,” Smith said. “I think it’s good for our guys to see success with what we’re doing and that’s going to help us going forward.”
Craig Ware finished the night with 194 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries while Brian Ware ended with 111 yards and two scores on 12 carries to lead the offense.