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  • Jim Townsend

Raider Football Holds Off Cougars to Remain Unbeaten

The Portland Raider football team faced off against their rival Lansing Catholic on Friday and Saturday at Lansing Catholic. The game started on Friday evening at 6:00 PM when the kick off was bumped up in hopes of getting the game in before expected thunderstorms rolled into the region. The game was suspended at approximately 7:15 PM on Friday with 11:52 left in third quarter due to lightning, and resumed on Saturday morning at 10:00 AM.

The Cougars of Lansing Catholic kicked off to the Raiders to start the game. Portland senior Gavin McGregor’s return started the Raider drive off at their own 40, but the Cougar defense forced the Raiders to punt.

Lansing Catholic started their possession on their own 39, but failed to gain any momentum on the stingy Raider defense, and they punted it back to the Raiders.

Portland started on their own 34 with 7:38 remaining in the first. Portland picked up first downs in passes to sophomore Ethan Patrick and senior David Svanda, but costly offsides penalties nearly stalled the Raider drive.

With the ball on on the Cougar 38, the Raiders picked up another first down on a pass to Patrick, setting up first and 10 on the Cougar 18. Then in a 3rd and 7 on Cougar 25, senior QB Owen Russell connected with Svanda to get the Raiders to a first and goal situation on the Lansing Catholic seven with 1:55 remaining in the first. Savanda was injured on the play and his night would come to an unfortunate end.

The Raider offense would finally cross the goal line when senior Blake Meyers followed the blocking of his offensive line to punch it in from three yards out. A third false start, this time on the point after, would push junior kicker Cameron Roof back five more yards on the attempt, but Roof put the ball through the uprights and the Raiders took a 7-0 lead with 0:27 left in first quarter.

Lansing Catholic’s Jack Chastain would receive the kick off, and the Cougars started on their own 35. The score would remain 7-0 as the first quarter came to and end.

A few plays later, the Cougar QB would keep the ball on an option around the left side of his line, but the hard-hitting Raider defense knocked the ball out of his hands and the Raiders would recover on the Cougar 41.

With the game’s momentum in their hands for the moment, Portland’s Russel would connect Gavin McGregor on a 41-yard TD pass. Roof connected on the point after and the Raiders would extend their lead to 14-0 with 11:09 remaining in the second quarter.

Roof put the ensuing kickoff into the Cougar end zone and Lansing Catholic would start on their own 20 with 11:09 on the clock.

As the Cougars tried to build some momentum of their own, senior Portland defensive lineman Cade Simon delivered a crushing sack on the Cougar QB on the Lansing Catholic 14. The Cougars would soon be forced to punt, and the Raiders would start their next drive on their own 41 with 9:41 left in the first half.

After two rushing first downs, the Raiders sat first down and ten to go on the Cougar 35. A few plays later the Raiders would then be called for their fourth false start of the half.

As they lined up for their next play in 4th and four situation, Meyers was able to power for a first down, and the Raiders were sitting first and 10 on the Cougar 22.

Meyers then ran for another first down, setting the Raiders up for first and goal on the seven. Senior running back Jordan Selby would cap off the drive with a one-yard TD run with 2:24 left on the clock. Roof connected on the PAT ad the Raiders were up 21-0.

The Cougars started their possession on their own 21, and were able to run for one first down. With the ball on the Lansing Catholic 33, the Portland defense would come up with another key play when they sacked the Cougar QB and forced another fumble which the Raiders recovered. Portland would take over on Cougar 30 with 1:42 remaining in the half.

With Portland sitting in a fourth and six on the Cougar 26, Cougar junior Jake Maloney would pick off Russell’s pass and ran it 74 yards for a Cougar TD. The PAT by sophomore Jonah Richards was good, and with only three second remaining in the first half, the score was Portland 21, Lansing Catholic 7.

The score would go unchanged as the first half came to an end.

As dark clouds started rolling into Lansing, Portland kicked off to the Cougars to start second half. Lansing Catholic would start on their own 20. With 11:52 remaining in the third quarter, lightning would force a delay of the game. This was at approximately 7:15 PM.

With the forecast calling for storm to continue past midnight, the decision was made to resume the game at 10:00 AM on Saturday.

Due to other commitments, I was unable to attend the final part of the game on Saturday, so the reminder of this piece will be quite a bit less detailed.

During the third quarter, the Cougars would reach the endzone again when senior Nate Biergans would score on a seven-yard TD run. Richards connected on the PAT and the score was Portland 21, Lansing Catholic 14.

The Raider offense was unable to get the ball into the endzone in the second half of play.

Late in the fourth quarter, the Cougars would score again when QB Zach Gillespie connected with Biergans for a 15-yard TD pass, putting the score at 21-20. In what would end up being the game winning play, Raider kicker Roof, who was playing nose tackle for the Raider defense at the time, snuck through the Cougar line and blocked the Lansing Catholic extra point kick.

The Raiders were able to hold on from that point and captured a 21-20 victory go remain unbeaten. The Raiders are now to 5-0 overall, 3-0 in the CAAC White Conference. The Cougars move to 4-1 overall, 2-1 in the CAAC White Conference.

Portland Rushing Statistics

Jordan Selby 9 for 33 yards and 1 TD

Owen Russell 8 for 10 yards

Gavin McGregor 7 for 40 yards

Blake Meyers 20 for 99 yards and 1 TD

Portland Passing Statistics

Owen Russell 5 for 11 for 94 yards 1TD, 1 INT

Portland Defense Statistics

Carson Frewen 10 tackles, 1 FBR

Kobe Kazamer 8 Tackles, 1 FBR

Cade Simon 5 Tackles, 2 Sacks

After the game, Raider head coach John Novara said, “I thought our kids battled hard both Friday and Saturday. We played through several injuries and were able to find a way to win against a very good Lansing Catholic football team. Our defense played great again this week holding a high-powered offense to 13 points. This once again was another great football game involving two of the top teams in the state.”

The Raiders will host Eaton Rapids on Friday night for homecoming 2019. The Greyhounds are 2-3 overall, and 1-2 in the CAAC White.

Photos courtesy of Brian Foreback.

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