The Portland High School football team hosted the Williamston Hornets Friday night in their first conference game of the year. It was a finish that the Raider faithful will not soon forget.
The Raiders received the ball to start the game and looked impressive right away. Starting at their own 15, the Raiders took only three plays to strike first, when senior running back Brock Gross broke off a 75-yard touchdown run. The PAT by junior kicker Tate Dziewiatkowski was good, putting the raiders up seven to zero, with 10:39 remaining in the first quarter.
In their final possession of the first half, Williamston was finally able to get on the board. Starting the drive at their own 26 with 2:29 left in the half, senior quarterback Jackson Pollack orchestrated a seven-play drive, all of which were passes, to put the Hornets on the board. The scoring play was a 14-yard touchdown pass to junior receiver Nathan Elenbaas with only 47 seconds left in the half. The PAT attempt by junior kicker IJ Strien was blocked by the Raider defense, putting the score at Portland 7, Williamston 6.
The Hornets received the ball to start the second half, and pieced together their second scoring drive. This drive consisted of six passing plays and only one run play. The scoring play was a five-yard TD pass from Pollak to senior receiver Frankie Toomey. The Hornets went for a two-point conversion, and the pass from Pollack to slot back Mikey Barry was good, putting the Hornets up 14 to seven with 10:19 remaining in the third.
The Raiders threatened later in the third, but a pass from senior quarterback Austin Allison to senior receiver Gavin Dennany was knocked down in the end zone by the Williamston secondary.
With 10:27 left in the fourth quarter, the Raiders started a drive from their own 15. Allison led his offense on an 11-play drive, capped off by a two-yard touchdown run by senior running back Dean Battley off the right side of the Raider line. The PAT by Dziewiatkowski was good, tying the score at 14 with 5:57 left in the game.
With 1:38 left in the game, the Hornets started from their own 40 after a Portland punt, but the first pass from Pollak was intercepted by the Portland’s Dennany at the Raider 45.
The energized Raider offense had another shot to take the lead. After moving the ball with some success on consecutive run plays, the offense was sitting with fourth down and two yards to go on the Hornet 33. Allison handed the ball to Gross once again the senior scrapped his way to a first down with 18 seconds on the clock.
The following play was a pass intended for junior Blake Patrick which fell incomplete, leaving the Raiders with a second down and 10 situation at the Williamston 32-yard line, and only 12 seconds left in the game.
With the Raider fans on the edge of their seats, Allison heaved a pass to the goal line where Dennany raked it in for the winning touchdown with only four seconds left on the clock. The PAT by Dziewiatkowski was good, and the score was Portland 21, Williamston 14.
After the Portland squib kick to the Hornets rolled out of bounds, Williamston had one last chance from their own 35. Pollack threw the ball deep down his own sideline, but the pass fell incomplete.
For the Raider defense, senior linebacker Devin Miler finished with 10 tackles. Dennany finished with four tackles on top of his key interception.
After the game, Raider Head Coach John Novara said, “Great game against a tough opponent. Scored with four seconds remaining. Brock Gross 24 carries, 191 yards and one TD. I am happy with the win and the way we bounced back from a tough loss last week.”
The Raiders are now 2-1 overall, and 1-0 in conference.
Next week they travel to Fowlerville for another conference match-up. The Gladiators are 1-2 on the year.