NASHVILLE – Portland fell to 1-7 on the season after suffering a 44-13 loss to Maplewood. Here are five things we learned from Friday night’s Region 5-4A contest.
Sloppy play early on
Despite the rain moving through well before kickoff, both teams were sloppy with the football early on. Maplewood quarterback Bobo Hodges fumbled on the first play of the game, as Portland defensive lineman Ryan Smith recovered the ball.
The Panthers’ first drive stalled after back-to-back plays resulted in a high snap that sailed over quarterback Michael Hussey’s head. After a Portland punt, Hodges fumbled on the center exchange again, giving the ball right back to Portland.
“We had some issues up front with the quarterback-center exchange, but the big plays in the first half kept us ahead,” Maplewood coach Arcentae Broome said. “Coming back after halftime we made some adjustments defensively that helped us out. We just hustled a little big more and played poised and within ourselves.”
Portland pounces on turnover
Portland took advantage of Maplewood’s second turnover with a short field, which ended with a 4-yard touchdown run from Austin Hardy. The score was Portland’s only offensive points for the entire game. Hardy, along with Hussey, combined for 86 rushing yards in the first half, but were only limited to 19 in the second.
Maplewood fires up
Maplewood’s offense got things in gear later in the first half. Jeremy McDowell broke free for a 92-yard touchdown run to put the Panthers on the board. After forcing a Portland punt, Hodges found Lamarco Petty deep for a 76-yard touchdown pass on Maplewood’s following possession. Hodges finished with 232 passing yards and four scores on the night. All three of Petty’s receptions went for touchdowns, who totaled 172 receiving yards.
“We worked all week on disrupting hands in the secondary,” Portland head coach Greg Cavanah said. “I knew we couldn’t run with them, but I was hoping we could disrupt hands and knock the ball out, but they just seemed to outrun us. Credit to the quarterback, because he could throw it to the spot they were running to and they just made good catches.”
Wild third quarter
The third quarter featured a wild sequence of events as both teams combined for three touchdowns on three consecutive plays. After Bobo Hodges connected with his brother Bo Hodges for a 60-yard touchdown pass, Portland responded with a 70-yard kickoff return from Tobias McNutt. After Portland’s kickoff, McDowell scampered for a 70-yard run to increase Maplewood’s lead to 36-13.
Time to regroup
With the tough loss, Portland will look to regroup next week week as it travels to Friendship Christian. Portland continue to search for bright spots in an otherwise disappointing season. As for Maplewood, the win increases their playoff chances, as well as their hopes to host a postseason game at home.
“We need to win the last two,” Cavanah said. “That’s what the goal is now. I don’t know for sure yet what our playoff chances are like, but what you want to do is beat Friendship Christian and Macon County and just see how things settle after that.”
“We just need to keep our momentum going,” Broome added. “We’ve got to go down to Marshall County next week, and I need to prepare the kids to understand that it’s a big atmosphere and it’s big time football down there. We need to prepare them to play playoff football from here on out. Because every game from now is really a playoff game.”