PORTAL — For the fourth time this season, the Portal Panthers were upended by a superior team in blowout fashion, this time falling to Savannah Christian 45-0. It’s the third 40 point shutout the Panthers have allowed this year.
From the beginning whistle to the Red Raider band playing on Portal’s field after the game went final, the visitors controlled the game all homecoming night.
“We made too many mistakes, especially in the first quarter when we were still in the game,” Head Coach Matt Smith said.
Portal looked like they had a chance to start the game. Savannah Christian drove the ball down, but penalties forced the Red Raiders to settle for a 45-yard field goal from Noah Chumley. Even if it was by Savannah Christian’s own doing, there was no touchdown on the opening series.
The game went south after Portal’s opening drive was stalled by a false start before they could even start the ball. Seven plays later the Panthers had to punt from their own 17-yard line.
On the ensuing drive, on eight plays the Red Raiders spread the field with Nate Moon picking up solid yardage on the ground and quarterback Spencer Robicheaux going 3-for-4 for 39 yards. Once again Chumley found his way onto the scorecard by catching a 10-yard fade in the back right of the endzone.
Freshman running back N’Day Perkins hit the outside before giving up his first fumble of the night. Three plays later Moon was in the endzone, making it a 17 point game.
The next Portal offensive play, Perkins sputtered the ball right into the hands of a Red Raider defender.
All it took was one throw from Robicheaux to Jordan Grant for the visitors to go up by 24. Two more touchdowns from Savannah Christian and the halftime homecoming ceremony was a little sourer.
The second half of the game was running clock, which helped the box score for Portal and minimized any further damage from the Red Raiders. In the second half though, the Panthers were able to come away with some positives.
Portal only had five penalty yards the second half compared to the 51 they had the first 24 minutes. The Panthers also came away with an even turnover margin in the second half, trading a Connor Washington fumble for Devante White interception.
Another sign of improvement coming out of the locker room was Perkins putting a forgettable first half behind him. On four rushes, the freshman was able to pick up 26 yards—highlighted by a 15-yard run in the waning minutes of the game.
“[Perkins] played a pretty good game,” Smith said. “He’s a freshman and he made some freshman mistakes. That’s what we told him, ‘how are you going to respond?’”
The Portal defense held stronger the second half, only allowing Savannah Christian to score seven points. Kicker Chumley trotted out though for a 62-yard field goal attempt that fell about two yards short.
In the past two games, Portal has only had 124 yards to hold their hats on, but Friday night looked a lot better against a better team than ECI two weeks ago. But the penalties and lack of depth caught up to the Panthers yet again.
“We were moving the ball at times okay, we had some plays,” Smith said. “But jumping offsides, a couple holding penalties here and there and a couple fumbles really set us back.”
Now at 1-4, the Panthers will look to pick up their second win of the season next Friday as they travel to 4-1 Claxton.