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  • James Townsend

Portland football routes Ionia in home opener

The Portland Raiders hosted the Ionia Bulldogs on Friday night for Portland’s first home game of the year.

The Raiders came into the game 2-0 after defeating Ovid-Elsie 33-6 in week one and topping Olivet 44-7 in week two.

Ionia entered the contest 1-1 after falling to Belding 22-11 in week one and trouncing Eaton Rapids 62-18 in week two.

The atmosphere was electric for this home opener, amplified by 200+ youth football players and cheerleaders in attendance for the annual “Jr. Raider Night”. There was even a t-shirt cannon on hand for the event.

The Raiders kicked off to start the game and Ionia would start at their own 31. The Bulldogs looked highly motivated early and gained some ground, but the drive ended quickly when Portland’s Kaleb Bower (senior) intercepted an Ionia pass setting up the Raider offense at the own 37.

The Raider offense had a bit of a slow start and would turn the ball over on downs giving Ionia possession near midfield.

The Raider defense would step up again when Portland senior Conner Kazamer intercepted the Bulldog pass at Portland’s 39.

A few plays later the Raiders would find the endzone for the first points of the contest when junior quarterback Dominic Novara connected with senior Caden Thelen for a 66-yard touchdown pass. Senior kicker Aiden Pulling connected on the extra point and Portland had a 7-0 lead with 6:36 left in the first quarter.

The Bulldogs started their next possession on their own 29 and make a deep drive into Portland territory. The Raider defense was able to force a fourth and three situation, but Ionia senior quarterback Travis Tucker Jr. was able to scramble for a first down. Just a play or two later, Tucker found the endzone on a two-yard touchdown run. The extra point attempt was wide right, and the score moved to Portland 7, Ionia 6 with less than a minute remaining in the first quarter.

Portland’s next possession would start on their own 15 yard-line. As the clock moved into the second quarter or play, the Raider offence was able to grind down the field. Portland would get their second score of the game when Novara punched it in himself on a one-yard touchdown run. Pulling extra point was good and Portland extended their lead to 14-6.

The Bulldog offense started to really struggle moving the ball against the fired-up Raider defense, and would turn the ball over on downs giving Portland possession near mid-field.

The Raider offense struck again when Novara connected with Caden Thelen on a 37-yard touchdown pass. Pulling point after was good and Portland would lead 21-6 with 3:22 left in the second quarter.

After an Ionia punt, the Portland offense would start at their own 44. The Raiders were able to drive deep into Ionia territory, but were unable to reach the endzone again and the teams went to halftime with Portland leading 21-6.

Ionia kicked off to start the third quarter and the Raider offense would go to work from their own 41. The Portland offense moved down the field efficiently and capped the drive off with a eight-yard touchdown run by junior running back Barrett Brennan. Pulling made good on the extra point and Portland extended their lead to 28-6 with 8:05 remaining in the third.

As the Ionia offense struggled to build some momentum, the Raider defense would have none of it. Portland’s Kazamer intercepted an Ionia pass to put the Raider offense back on the field.

The Raider offense started near mid-field with 5:52 left in the third and wasted little time in capitalizing on the turnover. Novara connected with Brennan for a 49-yard touchdown pass. Pulling nailed the extra point and Portland extended the lead to 35-6 with 5:00 left in the third.

After Ionia started on their own 18, they would soon be forced to punt once again.

The Raider offense had one of their few slip ups of the night and Ionia recovered a Portland fumble to take possession at their own 35.

The sudden change did not seem to hurt the Portland squad much. Just seconds after Ionia took possession, Brennan would pick off an Ionia pass and run it back 35-yards for a Portland Touchdown. Pulling remained perfect on the night and Portland extended their lead to 42-6 with seconds left in the third.

The fourth quarter of play did not see any scoring from either squad, and as the final seconds of the game ticked away, the Raiders took a knee to end the game. Portland would secure a 42-6 victory.

Scoring Summary

Portland 7-14-21-0 = 42

Ionia 6-0-0-0 = 6

Portland Running Stats

Barrett Brennan 6 carries 20 yards 1 TD

Dominic Novara 5 carries -8 yards 1 TD

Caden Thelen 14 carries 108 yards

Kaden Dickerson 6 carries 32 yards

Connor Kazamer 1 carry 3 yards

Connor Thelen 2 carries 12 yards

Caden Lockwood 2 carries 5 yards

Keaton McGregor 3 carries 21 yards

Mason McGregor 2 carries 13 yards

Isaac Kramer 1 carry 8 yards

Portland Passing Stats

Dominic Novara 4 for 6 193 3 TD's

Portland Receiving Stats

Cadent Thelen 2 receptions 103 yards 2 TD's

Chris Battley 1 reception 41 yards

Barrett Brennan 1 reception 49 yards 1 TD

Portland Defensive Stats

Kaden Dickerson 8 tackles

Connor Kazamer 7 tackles 2 Int's

Barrett Brennan 6 tackles 1 Int 1 TD

You can find Portland head coach John Novara’s post-game comments at the video link below.

We also have several photos from Friday night game on the Portland Beacon’s Facebook page.

With the win, Portland improves to 3-0 on the season. Next week they host new CAAC White member Lakewood on Friday night. Lakewood is currently 0-3 with losses to Battle Creek Pennfield, Charlotte and Eaton Rapids.

Ionia drops to 1-2 and will host 0-3 Olivet next week.


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