Curtis Marlin the Portland Leader
The Portland Panthers were 4 yards away from possible tying Creek Wood in a big game for playoff seedings with under two minutes left in the game. But the Red Hawks made a goalline stand and ran out the clock in posting a 14-6 win over the Purple in Charlotte Friday night.
The loss put the Panthers in fourth place in the region and the team will travel to Jackson Nov. 2 for the start of the playoffs.
“We had an opportunity to score at the end,” coach Greg Cavanah said afterward. “I thought we played an outstanding second half, we just came up short.”
The Red Hawks finished with 213 yards for the game, but gained just 75 in the final 24 minutes and 34 of that came on a 34-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
“Our second-half defense was great,” Cavanah said.
Creek Wood’s defense allowed 164 yards and recorded 20 tackles that went for two yards or less. Quarterback Caleb Mandrell had 52 yards and a touchdown and Dylan Gulley added 51 on five attempts.
Portland got the first break of the night after the Red hawks had passed the midfield stripe when Zach Brito jarred the ball loose with Grayson Stubblefield recovering at the 27.
The Panthers had to punt the football away for the second time of the evening. After the kick, Creek Wood put together a 12-play drive with Sam Askins and Danny Stansberry sharing the workload that resulted in a two-yard run by Askins at the 9:42 mark of the second period.
Portland’s best drive of the first was an 11-play series with Mandrell rushing for 42 yards and the junior quarterback complaint a pair of pas to Cade Box. The drive stalled when Mandrell was sacked on third down to force another punt.
The Red Hawks threatened late in the half after moving the football to the PHS 24. But Stubblefield sacked quarterback Timmy Randolph for a 16-yard loss as time expired.
Creek Wood took the opening kickoff and punched the football from 34 yards out on the ninth play of the possession.
Portland responded with an eight-play march as Devyn Fuqua ran for nine, Mandrell picked up 13 on a keeper and Dylan Gulley raced 35 yards to the one. Mandrell finished off the scoring opportunity by plunging into the endzone as Portland trailed 14-6 with two minutes left in the third quarter.
The Panthers had a chance to tie the game by moving the football 58 yards and aided by a pair of 15-yard penalties to the 4.
The Purple ran three plays that went for no yardage and a fourth-down pass fell incomplete and the Red Hawks took over on downs and ran out the clock.
Portland has an open date this week before hitting the road to Jackson on Nov.2 for an opening game playoff against the winner of the Northside and Southside contest.