PORTAGE - Portage Area High School football coach Gary Gouse said he would have been happy if you told him before the season the Mustangs weren't going to be 0-3 after three weeks.
They won't be, but the Mustangs are probably kicking themselves this morning that they aren't undefeated heading into week 3.
After upsetting WestPAC favorite North Star on the road in week 1, Portage appeared to be driving for a tying score early in the third quarter on Friday night against visiting Berlin Brothersvalley, regarded as the conference's other power team. The Mustangs couldn't finish off the drive, though, and Berlin, led by standout running back Drew Glotfelty, tacked on a fourth-quarter touchdown to escape Portage Area Stadium with a 20-7 win.
Photo for the Mirror by Chris Hochrein
Portage junior Joe Randazzo breaks Berlin Brothersvalley linebacker Blake Miller’s tackle, gaining extra yardage before being tackled by Bryce Fochtman.
"We stayed with Berlin," Mustang quarterback Evan Price said, "but we thought we could have done more."
With the game knotted at 7 late in the first half, Blake Miller scooted 17 yards for a touchdown on a third-and-10 quarterback draw to put the Mountaineers ahead. Portage then drove from its own 37 to the Berlin 17 on the opening possession of the third quarter but was stopped there on fourth-and-7.
Berlin tacked on an insurance TD midway through the fourth, converting a fourth down after facing third-and-14 and moving the sticks on a third-and-4, as well. The Mustangs, meanwhile, struggled in key situations, going 2-for-5 on third downs and committing all five of their penalties in the second half.
"We played the best two teams in the league toe-to-toe," Gouse said. "We missed some assignments. We couldn't convert. They got the big third-down plays, and we didn't. But I'm still proud of our kids. Nobody thought we'd start off like this with our schedule."
Gouse also believed Berlin benefited from a non-fumble call when Glotfelty as ruled down just before Miller's go-ahead score.
As if he were the train whose whistle was heard in the background several times during the contest, Glotfelty was chugging along all game and finished with 218 of Berlin's 276 rushing yards on 33 carries. Running as a tailback, wildcat quarterback and slotback in a no-huddle set, the 6-foot-1, 185-pounder had 135 yards on 19 first-half totes.
"We usually do that with our offense," Berlin coach Doug Paul said. "The offensive line played a great game. We can rotate eight, nine linemen."
"He's a stud," Gouse said of Glotfelty.
The teams exchanged touchdowns early touchdowns by capitalizing on turnovers.
Glotfelty bolted 50 yards on a jet sweep one play after Wayne Stoltzfus recovered a Cody Kephart fumble midway through the first period. The Mustangs equalized at 7:37 of the second when Scott Giles followed Kephart into the end zone from the 2 -- Paul Husar set that up when he pounced on the ball after it was punched free from Glotfelty as the Mountaineers tried to get out of deep in their own end.
Portage finished 4-5 last year and, starting several youngsters this season, didn't figure to be a big factor in the conference race. The good start had made Gouse reassess, though.
"I think this team has a chance. We're going to get better. We can run the table. We might go 8-2 and have a chance to make the playoffs," Gouse said. "We'll bounce back."
Game notes: The Mustangs played without standout sophomore Caleb Kephart, who was ejected from last week's game. ... Robert Yetsko, a 1950 graduate of Portage Joint who has worked the Portage chains for 61 years and played semi-pro football against Johnny Unitas, was honored before kickoff. ... Both starting quarterbacks were receivers last year.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Berlin Brothersvalley7 7 0 6 - 20
Portage0 7 0 0 - 6
BB-Glotfelty 50 run (Bowser kick), 6:17.
P-Giles 2 run (Swires kick), 7:37.
BB-Miller 17 run (Bowser kick), 1:22.
BB-Stockwell 3 run (run failed), 7:43.
RUSHING: Berlin Brothersvalley-Glotfelty 33-218, Miller 8-21, Stockwell 9-35, Belcher 2-5, Bra. Fochtman 1-3, Mongan 1-(-4), TEAM 1-(-2). Portage-Giles 8-40, Price 16-27, Dividock 2-5, Co. Kephart 1-(-4), Onder 2-(-6).
PASSING: Berlin Brothersvalley-Miller 1-2-0-1, Glotfelty 1-1-0-11. Portage-Price 8-12-1-57.
RECEIVING: Berlin Brothersvalley-Glotfelty 1-1, Miller 1-11. Portage-Randazzo 3-44, Baker 1-5, Giles 1-0, Harrison 2-(-2), Onder 1-10.
INTERCEPTIONS: Berlin Brothersvalley-Miller. Portage-none.