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Tough Portal wears down, falls 15-7

            MORGAN COUNTY – A tough Morgan County squad wore down the just-as-tough Portal team to come away with a 15-7 win over the Panthers.

            “It was a solid effort by our kids,” Portal coach Justin Chester said. “The effort in preparation all week was great and the young men worked real hard. We just wore down.”

            Portal traveled to the Athens-area school for the 2007 season opener.

            After the teams battled through the first quarter scoreless, a strong push by the Portal defensive line caused the Morgan County quarterback to fumble. Joseph Ware pounced on the loose ball at the 45-yard line.

            On the second play after the turnover, Panther running back Shane Northcutt swept around right end and scampered 50 yards into the end zone. Portal took a 7-0 lead into halftime.

            But on Portal’s first possession of the second half, Morgan County recovered a fumble at the Panther 30. Morgan scored four plays later, and completed a two-point conversion for an 8-7 lead after Portal jumped offsides on the extra-point attempt.

            “That was a real momentum changer,” Chester said. “The turnover seemed to give them a lot of confidence.”

            Chester said Portal’s lack of depth really took a toll on the team in the second half He said five players, including Octavius Rawls, had to leave the game early in the second half.

            “It was a tough loss, but I was real proud of our effort,” Chester said. “Our defensive line was strong all game and freshman Devon Spells played a great game.”

            Portal plays host to Southeast Bulloch next Friday. SEB fell to Toombs County Friday night.

            “It’s agreat county rivalry,” Chester said. “We’ll be ready for the Jackets.”