Portland still perfect, denies Olivet automatic playoff spot

Football on field

Football on field

PORTLAND – Last week, Portland started slowly in its conference finale against Williamston and trailed by two scores in the first half before coming back to win.

In non-league action against Olivet on Friday, the Raiders were the ones to start fast.

Senior Gabe Schrauben scored two first quarter touchdowns and Portland dominated another opponent on the ground in a 34-6 win.

“We’ve been having some practices that have been a little off the last couple weeks so we’ve just been trying to get rolling,” Schrauben said. “Now we have to keep rolling.”

The victory denied the Eagles (5-3) a sixth win which would have automatically clinched a playoff berth. Olivet will have to beat former Kalamazoo Valley league rival Battle Creek Pennfield next week to reach six wins.

“You can’t give a good team that big of a lead on you. We didn’t play our style of football in the first half. We weren’t very physical and Portland is a great program and they out-muscled us that first half,” Olivet coach Gabe Priddy said. “Pennfield is a big game for us no matter what the records are and it’s the seniors’ last home game potentially, so there’s a lot to play for and a lot to be fired up for.”

Schrauben provided the Raiders (8-0) with the first touchdown of the game with just less than three minutes gone in the first quarter, scoring on a run from 13 yards out.

A poor punt gave Portland the ball inside Olivet territory for its second drive and a run on a reverse to Brett Patrick gave the Raiders 21 yards on a fourth and 11. That set up another Schrauben TD run from 10 yards out.

Big plays were everywhere for Portland in the second quarter and helped doubled the lead from 14 to 28 heading into halftime.

Schrauben started a three-play drive with a 53-yard run and junior Brock Gross finished it with a 17-yard TD scamper to give the Raiders a 21-0 lead.

Logan Lefke then got involved on another scoring drive, starting it with a 34-yard reception and, on second down and long after a penalty, the senior took a screen pass from Austin Allison 43 yards inside the Olivet 20-yard line with less than 30 seconds remaining in the half.

Two plays later, Allison found Patrick on a quick pass. Patrick broke a tackle quickly after catching the ball and reached the end zone for a 12-yard score.

Lefke added the lone score of the second half for the Raiders with a 6-yard TD run in the fourth quarter. Olivet got on the scoreboard with an 8-yard run from senior Freddy Fuentes late in the fourth.

“We’ve got a lot of kids that we can get the football to. Even some of our backups are very good football players. We have depth at our skill positions,” Portland coach John Novara said. “We can do a lot of different things offensively and that makes us harder to defend.”

Portland will go for an undefeated regular season next week at Marshall. It would be the second straight unbeaten regular season for the Raiders.