PORTAL - The Portal Panthers entered the game ready to upset the Savannah Christian Raiders (6-1, Region 3-0) on Senior Night, the final home game for their seniors, but fell in a 34-7 contest.
Savannah Christian got on the board first as they worked the ball down the field with a solid mix of passing and running. The drive came to an end via a 9-yard touchdown run from Raider quarterback Jordan Grant. After the extra point, the Raiders took a 7-0 lead.
The Panther offense seemed to wake up on their second drive as a Huff completed three straight passes. A targeting call put Portal within striking distance inside the red zone, but a holding penalty from Portal would back them up too far to do damage.
After the Panthers nearly putting points on the board, the Raiders answered by again working down the field for another score. Their attack was simple as they continuously handed off to their big fullback A.J. Davis and capped the drive with a 12-yard touchdown run from Demetris Robertson.
Trailing by 14, the Panthers needed to put together a drive and build momentum. A facemask penalty gave the drive a jumpstart, along with a 21-yard completion from Darius Huff to Craig Ware. Portal was inside the red zone again but failed to convert on fourth down and turned the ball over.
The Raiders looked as if they were going to put in one more score before half time as Grant threw deep to the goal line, but Panther defensive back Connor Washington had different plans as he picked off the pass and returned it 58 yards with :34 remaining in the half.
Huff followed the turnover with a 30-yard completion to Malik Williams. As time expired in the half, Huff threw into the back of the end zone for Williams again, but the catch was ruled out of bounds. The half ended with the Panthers trailing 14-0 but with three red zone trips to hang their hats.
"(We) took it to Savannah Christian in the first half, but that has been the story of our season. We weren't consistent enough and weren't explosive enough to overcome that half," Portal head coach Matt Smith said.
Savannah Christian began the half with a gutsy call of an onside kick. The decision paid off for them as the ball bounced out of a Panther's hands and the Raiders were able to recover. Davis would get seven carries on the drive and would end up walking into the end zone. Portal blocked the extra point to make it a 20-0 ball game.
At the start of the fourth quarter, the Raiders returned a punt for a score, but it was called back on another targeting penalty, and they were forced to start from the 19-yard line. Davis made short work of the drive, scoring his second touchdown after two consecutive runs.
Given another short field, the Raiders walked the ball down on a series of short runs. Davis would find the end zone for the third time on an 11-yard touchdown run with less than five minutes remaining in the contest.
With time running out, Fred Holloway, Portal's leading rusher on the night, found the end zone for their only score. Time would expire with the Raiders on top of the Panthers, 34-7. The Raiders owed their performance to their fullback A.J. Davis, who picked up 146 yards and three scores on 30 carries.
SC 7 7 6 14 — 34
PHS 0 0 0 7 — 7
SC_Grant 9 yard run (Chumley kick)
SC_Roberston 12 yard run (Chumley kick)
SC_Davis 1 yard run (kick blocked)
SC_Davis 4 yard run (Chumley kick)
SC_Davis 11 yard run (Chumley kick)
PHS_ Holloway 12 yard run (Bowen kick)
First downs 18 10
Total Yards 357 165
Rushes-Yards 47-275 23-93
Passing 82 72
Comp-Att-Int 7-12-0 7-18-0
Turnovers 1 0
Penalties-Yards 9-100 6-50
RUSHING_SC: Davis 30-147, 3 TD; PHS: Holloway 6-47, 1 TD
Passing_SC: Grant 7-12-82; PHS: Huff 7-18-72
RECEIVING_SC: Bruno 3-32; PHS: Williams 4-43