- James Townsend
Raiders Battle for 20-17 Victory over Heavily Favored DeWitt
“It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog.” ― Mark Twain
If you followed any Lansing area sports media in recent days, DeWitt’s impeding beat down of Portland was all but a sure thing. It almost felt like the defending state champion Panthers were more focused on their upcoming September 10th showdown with East Lansing, and that the September 2nd trip to Portland was simply a formality on DeWitt’s road to a repeat state championship.
On Friday night, despite being significantly outsized and outgunned, the gritty Portland squad proved many people wrong, as the Red Raiders thrilled the home crowd with a hard-fought victory in the closing seconds of the game.
After the Panthers opening kickoff sailed into the endzone, the Raiders would start their first offensive possession at their own 20 yard-line. On the very first play from scrimmage, Portland senior running back Caden Galey broke through DeWitt defenders right up the middle of the field and sprinted for an 80-yard touchdown run. Portland’s point after failed and the Raiders were up to an early 6-0 lead.
The Panthers would respond with deep drive into Raider territory, led by senior quarterback Tyler Holtz, before being pushed into a fourth and goal situation on the seven. DeWitt’s junior kicker Brandon Soltis would connect on the field goal, putting the score at 6-3.
DeWitt would strike for a second time in the second quarter. They started their possession at their own 40. The Raider defense put up a strong fight and pushed the Panthers into a fourth and inches at the Raider four-yard line. DeWitt would eventually find the endzone when senior running back Bryce Debris ran into the endzone. Soltis connected on the extra point and DeWitt took a 10-6 lead with 8:02 remaining in the first half.
Portland started their next possession near their own 25, and was making some excellent progress before a DeWitt player picked off a Portland pass in the endzone for a touch back.
The Panther offense would take over at their own 20 and with 4:45 left on the clock. Holtz scrambled for a huge pick up moving the Panthers deep into Raider territory. Portland pushed DeWitt into a 4th and ten on the Portland 25, but Holtz was able to connect with another one of his receivers for a first down.
The Raider defense came up strong once again pushing DeWitt to a 4th and seven on the ten-yard line with 13 second left in the half. DeWitt’s Soltis lined up for a field goal, but missed wide left.
The teams would go to halftime with DeWitt leading 10-6.
The Panther offense would take the field to start the second half. As DeWitt started to gain some traction, they tried some trickery with a double pass attempt, but that was picked off by Portland senior Ethan Patrick and Portland would take over possession at their own 28.
The Raider offense would strike quickly as senior quarterback Haden Getchell connected with Patrick for a 74-yard touchdown pass. Senior kicker Madison Luxmore would connect on the point after and Portland would take a 13-10 lead with 8:01 left in the third.
After DeWitt drove down to the Portland 22, they would turn it over on downs on an incomplete pass on 4th and 15.
In the Portland possession, senior running back Reis Phillips would break free for a huge gain down the field. Galey also had a nice run moving the ball inside the DeWitt five. As the final quarter of play began, Portland would be sitting with a fourth and goal on the Panther one, but the DeWitt defense came up with a stand and kept the Raiders from scoring.
DeWitt’s Holtz would then lead his offense on a 99-yard scoring drive, capped off with a one-yard touchdown run on a quarterback keeper. Soltis’ point after was good, and the score moved to DeWitt 17, Portland 13, with 6:59 remaining in the game.
The Portland offense would pick up some momentum again in their next possession. Getchell connected with junior Aiden Marowelli for a huge pick up. The Raiders would eventually drive the ball down to the Panther nine-yard line, but the Raider offense fumbled into the endzone and the Panthers recovered the ball.
DeWitt started their possession at their own 20 with 4:25 remaining in the game. As they moved into midfield, they would fumble the ball. Portland retrieved the fumble and took over possession at their own 49 with 2:31 remaining in the game, still down 17-13.
A pass interference call on DeWitt would get Portland a first down on the DeWitt 36. Getchell connected with Marowelli again setting up a second and one. Portland would then pick up two more first downs, the first on a completion to Patrick, and the second on a run by Phillips.
The Raiders would find themselves with a first and ten at the DeWitt 11-yard line. As Getchell dropped back to pass, he was able to find Patrick and connect for a game winning 11-yard touchdown pass with only 22 seconds left in the game. Luxmore connected on the point after, giving Portland a 20-17 lead.
After the game, Portland head coach John Novara was proud of the “fight” that his team showed. You can find his comments to the media at the link below.
Scoring summary by quarter:
Portland 6-0-7-7 = 20
DeWitt 3-7-0-7 = 17
Caden Galey 17 for 157 1 TD
Reis Phillips 12 for 95
Drew Miller 3 for 5
Haden Getchell 4 for 37
Ethan Patrick 1 for 7
Total 37 for 301
Holtz 18 for 134 1 TD
Flegler 2 for -1
Adkins 1 for 1
Debri 11 for 37 1 TD
Haden Getchell 7 for 8 for 152 yards 2 TD's
Holtz 10 for 23 for 167 1 INT
Ethan Patrick 4 for 95 2 TD's
Drew Miller 1 for 12
Aiden Marowelli 2 for 45
Flegler 4 for 27
McIntosh 4 for 42
Brandell 1 for 8
Kurncz 1 for 31
Brady Krause 13
Branson Goodman 9
Andrew Maynard 8
Ethan Patrick 5 and 1 INT
Portland’s next action will be on Friday September 10th when they open CAAC White action hosting Ionia at 7:00 PM. The Bulldogs are currently one and one, losing to Belding 34-7 in week one, and beating Wyoming Kellogsville 55-8 in week two.