PORTLAND – A beautiful day produced a beautiful game for the Portland Panthers Saturday afternoon at Edgar Johnson Field. A perfect 73-degree day was just the second-best part of the 2 p.m. kickoff, as the Panthers (1-2, 1-0) easily took down Montgomery Central (0-3, 0-1) 34-0.
The offense did most of its damage on the ground, rushing for 239 yards and passing for 97. Ryan Brewster led all backs with 75 yards and one touchdown on five carries. Drake Vanatta was the lone passing threat for the purple in white, catching his two targets for 97 yards and two touchdowns to add to his 14 yards on three carries. Caleb Mandrell fished the day with 97 yards passing, 67 yards rushing and two passing touchdowns.
Defensively, Greg Cavanah’s crew did its part; the Panthers limited the Indians to just 157 total yards and forced five costly turnovers.
Portland struck first on the Indians first possession. On second-and-8, Noah Horn recovered a fumble at the Indian 15-yard line, setting up the offense with perfect field position. Three plays later, Horn hurled himself into the end zone for the first score of the day. Cameron Lyle connected on three of her five extra point attempts.
Fast-forward to the second quarter, following a missed 37-yard field goal by the Indians, Portland took over at its own 21-yard line, just one minute into the second.
Five consecutive rushing plays put the Panthers on the Indians 27, with eight minutes remaining in the first half. Facing third-and-9, Mandrell found Vanatta for his first passing touchdown – this one from 27 yards out and the 14-0 lead.
Isaiah Lackey found himself in the right place at the right time following the three-man tip drill, as he secured the Panthers first interception of the day and second turnover of the half.
Forcing a Montgomery Central punt, Portland needed just two plays to go 57 yards, as Brewster capped off the drive with a 42-yard touchdown run. The Panthers led 20-0 at recess.
Portland seemingly put the game to bed on its first possession of the second half. After having an Indian punt downed inside the 1-yard line, Portland marched 99 yards for the score on eight plays. The drive was highlighted by Vanatta’s second touchdown grab of the evening. This catch-and-run carried 70 yards for the score for a 28-0 advantage.
The Panthers scored the game’s final touchdown when Josh Fadely took the handoff 18 yards to pay dirt with 1:57 remaining in the third quarter.
“Overall great team effort today,” Portland head coach Greg Cavanah said. “We took a play Hillwood hurt us on last week and used it for two touchdowns today. It was a good time, think the kids enjoyed it, and it was a beautiful day to play football.”
The fourth quarter was used for a couple younger guys to get valuable varsity reps.
“Experience is the best teacher,” Cavanah said. “We got some guys playing that we didn’t expect to play and here they are making plays in the third game of the season. It works, they believe in the system and that is huge for us.”
Portland racked up 336 total yards against the Indians, prompting Cavanah to gush about his offensive line play.
“Best job they’ve done all season,” he said. “We are building depth as we go along which is great for our guys, had some younger guys step in and play really well. We play a physical brand of football, we line up and run straight at you; that’s what I ask them to do today and that’s what they did, better than first two games.”
Portland travels to region-foe Greenbrier on Friday night. Kick off set for 7 p.m.