• James Townsend

Raiders eek out win over Sexton to stay undefeated

The Portland High School football team traveled to Sexton High School in Lansing on Friday night for their second CAAC White game of the season. The Raiders entered the game 3-0 and the Big Reds of Sexton came in 0-3.

Despite being heavily favored to win, the Raider squad found themselves trailing Sexton at multiple times during the game.

Portland wasted no time in getting on the score board. After a sizable kick off return by Portland senior Ethan Patrick, the Raiders started their drive at the Sexton 41. The Portland scoring drive was capped off with a one-yard touchdown run by senior quarterback Haden Getchell. Senior kicker Madison Luxmore would connect on the extra point and Portland would take an early 7-0 lead.

After exchanging punts, Sexton would drive down to the Portland 20 led by senior QB Dontal Wright. But the Big Reds would fumble and Portland would take over at their own 25.

As the second quarter of play began, Portland would be forced to punt once again.

Sexton’s possession would be short lived, and Patrick would pick off a pass and set Portland up at the Big Red 28.

Getchell would scramble for another big gain, and senior running back Caden Galey would punch it in from six yards out for Portland’s second touch down of the night. Luxmore connected on the point after and the Raiders had a 14-0 lead with 8:46 remaining in the second quarter.

With 3:26 remaining in the second quarter, the Big Reds would find the end zone when Wright connected on a five-yard touchdown pass to junior John Douglas. Sexton failed on the conversion and the score moved to Portland 14, Sexton 6.

After Portland was forced to punt, Sexton would start their next drive on their own 38 with 1:09 remaining in the second. Sexton would score a few plays later on a double pass to senior Brandon Collins. The two-point conversion pass was knocked down by the Raider defense and the score would sit at Portland 14, Sexton 12.

As the second half would begin, the Sexton offense was able to make steady progress. After starting on their own 43, Wright would scramble once again to move the ball deep into Portland territory. Just plays later Wight would find the end zone himself on a one-yard run. Sexton’s point after was blocked by Portland’s Galey and the score would sit at Sexton 18, Portland 14 with 7:55 remaining in the third.

The Raider offense would strike back quickly. Galey would take the ball down to the Sexton six, then he ran for a six-yard touchdown himself soon after. Luxmore connected on the point after and Portland took a 21-18 lead with 7:16 remaining in the third.

After a failed onside attempt, Sexton would start their drive at the Portland 46. Sexton’s Wright would punch it in for another score. Wright then connected with senior Charleston Rogers on the two-point conversion and Sexton would take a 26-21 lead with 2:49 remaining in the third.

The Raider offense would get on the board soon after the fourth quarter began when senior running back Reis Phillips punched it in from six yards out. Luxmore’s kick was good and Portland would take a 28-26 lead.

Sexton would then drive deep into Raider territory, but the Portland defense came up with a huge stop. Sexton’s punt would roll into the end zone and Portland would start their possession at their own 20 with 9:04 remaining on the clock.

Still with a two-point lead, the Raider offense would put together a slow, steady, and time-consuming drive deep into the Sexton end. With 1:31 remaining in the game, Portland’s Phillips would pound his way in for an eight-yard touchdown. Luxmore nailed the extra point and Portland would take a 35-26 lead.

As the Big Red offense made one last push, a Sexton player would fumble the ball and Portland would recover at the Sexton 44 with just 1:18 remaining in the game.

Portland’s Getchell would take a knee to run out the clock and secure a 35-26 win.

After the game, Portland head coach John Novara said, “I think we left too many plays out there. We have to make plays when they are there, and the kids need to execute. In the first half especially, we didn’t execute well. We didn’t tackle well. A lot of times we didn’t do our jobs. There were a lot of plays out there tonight that we could have made, and we didn’t. It put us in a close ball game.”

As for Sexton, Novara said, “They are a big, physical, athletic football team. You just have to execute and we didn’t execute at all in the first half.”

Portland improves to 4-0 overall, 2-0 in the CAAC White. Next week they host Charlotte. The Orioles started their year 3-0, but fell to Ionia 48-26 on Friday night.

Sexton moves to 0-4 overall, 0-2 in the CAAC White. They travel to 0-4/0-2 Eaton Rapids next week.

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