Portland Football defeats Corunna to win District Championship
Portland hosted Corunna on Friday night in an MHSAA Division 5 district championship matchup.
The Raiders would strike first in the contest when senior running back Drew Miller broke free for a 21-yard touchdown run. Junior kicker Aiden Pulling’s extra point was good giving Portland an early 7-0 lead with only 40 seconds remaining in the first.
On their next possession, the Cavaliers would start on their own 20. Corunna was able to chip away at the Raider defense and move the ball deep into Raider territory. Corunna would eventually find the endzone when junior quarterback Tarick Bower scored on a one-yard touchdown run. The extra point by senior kicker Payton Brown was good tying the score at 7-7 with 8:10 remaining in the second quarter.
The Raiders would threaten in their next possession, but a pass into the endzone was knocked down by a Cavalier player with less than a minute left in the second. Corunna would let the clock run out and the teams went into halftime still tied.
Early in the third quarter, Portland would retake the lead when Miller broke free for a 42-yard touchdown run. Pulling’s PAT was good and the Raiders led 14-7 with 10:10 remaining in the third.
The Cavaliers would waste little time, and once again found the endzone when Bower connected with sophomore Bryce Edington on a 22-yard touchdown pass. Brown’s extra point was good and the teams were tied 14-14 with 7:45 left in the third.
After a Portland turn over on downs and a Corunna punt, the Raiders would start their next possession with excellent field position at the Corunna 40. Just a few plays later Miller would pick up his third touchdown of the night, this time on a 38-yard run. Pulling connected on the point after putting Portland up 21-14 with 2:05 remaining in the third.
The Cavaliers would bounce right back and score on a 28-yard keeper by Bower. Brown’s extra point was good and the teams were tied 21-21 with 28 seconds left in the third.
The Raiders would score one more time before the end of the third quarter when junior Caden Thelen ran the kick off back for an 80-yard touchdown run. Pulling’s kick was good and Portland regained the lead 28-21 with only 16 seconds left in the third.
As the game moved into the fourth quarter of play, the Portland defense would come up with a huge start, forcing the Cavaliers to punt.
The Raider offense would take over at their own 19 heading into a strong wind. Senior quarterback Marc Nobis was able to scramble for a first down run to keep the drive alive. Senior running back Branson Goodman powered for another Raider first down, quickly followed by first down run by Miller. The Raiders would finally reach the endzone on an 18-yard touchdown run by Miller, his fourth score of the game. Portland’s extra point was no good and the Raiders would have a 34-21 lead with 3:55 remaining in the game.
The Cavalier offense started at their own 35 and quickly powered their way into Portland territory. Corunna found the endzone on a 5-yard touchdown run by junior Jaden Edington. Brown’s extra point was good and Portland led 34-28 with 2:57 remaining in the game.
During the ensuing Portland possession, Corunna would quickly use two of the timeouts to manage the clock a well as they could. Portland did pick up a first down on a pass from Nobis to Goodman, and Corunna used their final timeout with 1:52 remaining in the game. The Raiders would then fumble the ball and the Cavaliers recovered on the Portland 48 with 1:45 left on the clock.
The Portland defense would stand strong, forcing a crucial turn over on downs, and giving the Raiders the ball back on their own 47 with just 1:04 left in the game.
Nobis was able to take a knee to burn up the remaining time and secure a 34-28 Portland win.
Scoring summary by quarter:
1st – 2nd – 3rd – 4th – Final
Portland 7 - 0 - 21 - 6 - 34
Corunna 0 - 7 - 14 - 7 - 28
Miller would lead Portland offensively with 223 yards and four touchdowns.
Caden Thelen led Portland defensively with 10 tackles.
Your can find Portland head coach John Novara’s post game comments below.
With the win, Portland improves to 10-1 on the season. They advance to the regional round where they will face the Cougars of Grand Rapids Catholic Central at Catholic Central on Friday night at 7:00 PM.
The Cougars also enter the game 10-1 after defeating Berrien Springs 56-0 in their district finals. The Cougars have won five state championships in the last six years. They were the Division 5 champs in 2020 and 2021, and the Division 4 champs in 2016, 2017 and 2019.
Photos by Renae Goodman.