The October Friday Night Lights finally cooled last night, but it did not cool the Portland defense. The Portland defense was the story last night as they held the Ovid Elsie offense to 109 yards on their way to a first round Region 3 District 2 playoff win at Portland, defeating Ovid Elsie 16-0.
Portland would start the game out fast, as (Sr) SB Brock Gross scored on the first play from scrimmage. Gross performed a Houdini Halloween trick slipping his way through would be O-E tacklers on his way to a 65-yard touchdown run. (Jr) K Tate Dziewiatkowski would come on for the extra point that had some difficulties. Gross and Dziewiatkowski were able to work together to convert the extra point kick. With 11:47 still left in the 1st Quarter, Portland lead O-E 7-0.
The 1st half would be a defensive struggle. Neither defense allowing their opponents offense a chance to make any sort of threat. Both offenses would have setbacks on 3rd down, that helped short circuit their drives with some delay of game calls that seemed awfully quick.
Coming out of the locker room, Portland’s offense showed some life as they drove down the field. The drive would be capped by a 1-yard touchdown as (Sr) QB Austin Allison lunged forward to cross the O-E goal line. With 5:31 left in the 3rd Quarter Dziewiatkowski would convert on the extra point kick. Portland would lead 14-0.
An aspect of this game that could be easily overlooked was the punting of (Sr) P Dean Battley. Battley pinned O-E deep in their own end of the field all game. Battley would twice pin O-E inside their own 5-yard line and would set up the final score of the game with a 43-yard punt that put O-E on their own 1-yard line. With :57 seconds left in the 3rd Quarter, Battley’s LB partner, (Sr) LB Devin Miller, would come free and tackle Ovid Elsie (Sr) RB Jordan Post in the end zone for a safety. The Portland defense swarmed the O-E line allowing Miller to come through for the 2nd safety of the season for the Raider defense. At the end of the 3rd Quarter Portland led O-E 16-0.
The 4th Quarter would be dominated by the swarming Raider defense. With 3:17 left in the game (Jr) NG Dylan Arthur came free and chased O-E (Sr) QB Jericho Herblet out of the pocket and forced a desperation pass that was intercepted by Miller. Herblet spent much of the game running from the Raider Defensive front 7 of (Sr) DE Gavin Thelen, (Sr) DT Evan Foreback, Arthur, (Jr) DT Owen Guilford, (Jr) DE Jackob Hickling, Battley and Miller. Miller would finish the game with 12 tackles one interception and a safety while Battley finished with 9 tackles and a fumble recovery. Portland would set up on the O-E 30, but the O-E defense would force a fumble as Allison tried to move the pile for extra yards on a hard 10-yard run. However, on 2nd down Herblet would be intercepted by (Jr) S Cade Parmalee on an attempted deep pass. O-E would have the ball one last time but a 4th down Herblet pass would fall incomplete. Portland lined up in the Victory formation to finish the game. Offensively Gross finished with 12 carries for 91 yards and a TD, while Allison had 12 carries for 61 yards and a TD.
After the game, Portland Head Coach John Novara said, “Ovid Elsie is a very good football team and we are excited to come out with a victory tonight. Our defense played incredible again tonight holding them to 109 yards and creating three turnovers. Offensively we struggled tonight and the credit goes to their defense. Dean Battley and Devin Miller, our two inside linebackers, came up big time and time again all night. Our defensive front was able to put pressure on their quarterback and our defensive backs did a great job of covering their speedy receivers. We know we have a tough opponent in week 11 and we will prepare and be ready to play next Friday.”
The tough opponent that Coach Novara is speaking of is a very familiar one in league rival Lansing Catholic (8-2). In the regular season matchup, the Raiders dominated the Cougars in a 35-6 victory, but look to Cougar Head Coach (and Michigan High School Football Coaches Hall of Fame member) Jim Ahern to have his kids ready to play. Lansing Catholic comes into the game after going to Olivet and beating them 42-20. Going into this District Final game, Portland has won 3 of the last 4 games with Lansing Catholic but that last loss came in the District Final game at home in 2015. This year’s Raider team hopes to make it four out of five and to continue on a season of big dreams. This is the time of year that builds football families and lifetime memories. The game will be played at Portland this Friday, November 3rd, at 7 p.m. There will be a presale for tickets on Wednesday the 1st and Thursday the 2nd from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and also on Friday the 3rd from 8 a.m. to Noon. These tickets are $5 and can be purchased at the Athletic Office at the High School.