Friday night was billed as a big-time matchup of CAAC White Rivals, but just like so many Mike Tyson Pay Per View fights I watched when I was younger, it did not live up to the hype.
Portland came out ready to battle a full 10 round fight, while their opponent appeared to clutch and hold just to get to the finish without being knocked out. In the rematch, Portland won every round on the score card, man handling Lansing Catholic on the way to a 35-0 win.
On the first possession of the game, Portland was forced to punt after the offense went three and out. Just like many times this year, (Sr) P Dean Battley would get off a key punt to help set up the Portland offense. Battley pinned the Cougar offense at their own 10-yard line. The Raider Defense would hold and force a Cougar punt. (Sr) QB Austin Allison would gouge the Cougar defense for a long run setting up the offense at the one-yard line. (Sr) SB Devin Miller would punch it in for the touchdown on the next play from one yard out. (Jr) K Tate Dziewiatkowski came on for the extra point and would convert on the kick putting Portland up 7-0 with 6:34 left in the 1st quarter.
Portland would get the ball back after the defense forced another punt and would waste little time in scoring again. Allison found (Sr) SB Brock Gross open over the middle for a 28-yard TD pass. Dziewiatkowski converted the extra point kick giving the Raiders a 14-0 lead with 2:47 left in the 1st quarter.
With 1:21 left in the 1st quarter, Lansing Catholic went for it on 4th and 10 and failed giving Portland back the ball on the Portland 40. At the end of the 1st quarter it was Portland 14, Lansing Catholic 0.
The Portland offense would quickly score in the 2nd quarter, when Allison hit (Jr) SB Owen Guilford with a 12-yard TD pass. Dziewiatkowski converted on the extra point kick giving Portland a 21-0 lead with 9:00 left in the 2nd quarter. The Lansing Catholic offense would finally show a little life when they were able to drive down to the Portland one following a face mask penalty. However, with 3:28 left in the half, the Raider defense would come up with a big goal line stand. After losing two yards, moving the Cougar offense back to the three, the Cougars went for it on 4th and three and came up empty when the pass fell incomplete in the end zone. Lansing Catholic did threaten again right before the end of the half but a would-be touchdown was ruled out of bounds. At the half Portland 21, Lansing Catholic 0.
Not much would change when the two teams came out of the locker room. After the Raider defense forced another punt, the offense marched down the field. With 5:28 left in the 3rd quarter, Allison would score another Raider TD from one yard out. Dziewiatkowski converted on the extra point making it Portland 28, Lansing Catholic 0, which would be the score at the end of the 3rd quarter.
It cannot be stressed enough how well the Portland defense played. After forcing another punt, the Portland offense would move down the field finishing off the possession with a 15-yard TD by Battley with 6:15 left in the game. Dziewiatkowski converted on the extra point making it Portland 35 and Lansing Catholic 0.
The defense held Lansing Catholic to 160 yards of offense (53 yards rushing, 107 passing). Lansing Catholic may think they played poorly, but that’s what good defenses do! They make teams play poorly. If you want Big Boy results, you need to play BIG BOY FOOTBALL and that is exactly what this Raider defense did and deserves to get a ton of credit. There was an altercation near the end of the game that in my opinion was low class and that will be all I’ll say about it here. The final score was Portland 35 Lansing Catholic 0.
Leading the way for the Raider defense was Miller with 11 tackles, Battley with eight tackles. The front seven had put pressure on the Lansing Catholic offense all game and was led by (Sr) DT Evan Foreback who racked up seven tackles and three sacks. The offense was led by Allison with 15 carries for 128 yards and a TD run. Allison also was three of four for 69 yards passing and two TD’s. Battley had five carries for 49 yards and a TD.
After the game, Coach John Novara said, “Our kids played extremely well tonight and executed on both sides of the ball. It is always difficult to beat a team twice and Lansing Catholic is a well-coached football team. Our defense continues to play well and our offense got it going tonight. We are excited to get this District Championship and know we will have a tough opponent in the Regionals. I am proud of our kids and their efforts tonight and all-season long.”
We are very proud of you too Coach, and your entire staff along with the kids. We could not be any prouder of our Raiders!
Next up will be another familiar foe. Portland (10-1) 91.222 will host Grand Rapids West Catholic (9-2) 73.639. Grand Rapids West Catholic beat Portland in the District Finals last year, 10-7, which was the de facto Division 5 State Title game as no one else came close to beating the Falcons en route to their State Title last year.
The game will be Friday, 7 p.m. here in Portland.