PORTAGE - Any opponent game-planning to play Portage knows to prepare to stop the run. However, the Mustangs make themselves that much more dangerous and even harder to stop when they can pass the ball as well.
On Friday night at Portage Stadium, Portage wreaked havoc on Meyersdale's stop-the-run blitz defensive game plan as they used an effective passing game mixed in with their usual ground game to blow out the visiting Red Raiders, 48-19, on homecoming night.
"We adjust so well during the game [to what the opposing defense is trying to do]. We knew that the flat pass was there and so was some play action," Portage coach Gary Gouse said. "It's tough when [a team] wants to stop the run, then we can do that [pass]. That makes you a pretty good football team."
The Mustangs, now 2-1 in both the WestPAC Conference and overall, scored on all four of their possessions of the first half, and while the four touchdowns were scored on running plays, it was the passing game that helped put them in prime position to score.
Caleb Kephart rumbled 29 yards to the end zone on a misdirection play off the right side at 8:01 of the first to put Portage on the board.
Following a Red Raider punt, the Mustangs marched 70 yards in 10 plays as quarterback Evan Price found Scott Giles twice for 25 yards before the quarterback ran in basically untouched from 1 yard out to put his team up 14-0, after the two-point conversion run by Kephart.
"They used the run to set up their passing very well tonight. We weren't quite ready for some of the things they threw at us, as far as the passing game goes," Meyersdale coach Chris Schrock said. "That forced us, when they started hitting their receivers in the flats, we had to cool our jets then on blitzes We had to completely change our scheme."
On Meyersdale's second play on its ensuing possession, Joe Randazzo fell on a fumbled ball and Portage was in business at its own 48. The Mustangs had the Raiders completely confused as freshman Luke Dividock took the pitch and found C.W. Miller wide-open for a 33-yard pickup. Giles swept the left side on the next play from 19 yards away to run the score to 21-0 just 48 seconds into the second quarter.
"We wanted to throw to get ourselves a more balanced attack," Gouse said. "Last week, we only threw the ball once. We wanted to see what we could do with certain plays that was going to benefit us down the line."
Meyersdale, which fell to 0-3, responded with a seven play, 88 yard drive that ended when Gavin Berkley caught a pass from quarterback Lance Leydig in the flat, then proceeded to break a couple of Mustang tackles before finding paydirt from 47 yards.
Portage sucked nearly six minutes off the clock when it got the ball back. Kephart scored for the second time - this on a 3-yard run - that completed a 12-play, 67-yard drive that gave Portage a 28-6 lead heading into halftime.
Portage amassed 247 yards of total offense in the first two quarters, including 177 via the ground game.
"We have an overall great attitude. I really like this kids this year," Gouse said. "They've really come with a purpose. That's what football's about - you got to play with a purpose and we are right now."
Game notes: Portage senior Jordan Forst was crowned homecoming queen at halftime The Mustangs collected 418 yards of total offense and 22 first downs, 14 of which came before halftime Sophomore Caleb Kephart led Portage with 93 rush yards on 13 carries, while five others had 20 plus yards each.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Meyersdale0 6 0 13 - 19
Portage14 14 14 6 - 48
P-Ca. Kephart 29 run (kick failed), 8:01.
P-Price 1 run (Ca. Kephart run), 1:36.
P-Giles 19 run (Lutz kick), 11:12.
MY-Berkley 47 pass from Leydig (pass failed), 7:13.
P-Ca. Kephart 3 run (Lutz kick), 1:10.
P-Randazzo 16 pass from Price (Lutz kick), 11:39.
P-Price 1 run (Lutz kick), 7:02.
MY-Deakins 10 pass from Leydig (pass failed), 10:59.
P-Dividock 29 run (kick failed), 7:16.
MY-Cerreta 1 run (Miller kick), 3:54.
RUSHING: Meyersdale-Schrock 2-6, Berkley 13-32, Leydig 9-44, Cerreta 6-35. Portage-Ca. Kephart 13-93, Price 6-32, Co. Kephart 6-29, Giles 4-41, Dividock 6-56, Harrison 3-36, Onder 3-19, TEAM 1-(-1).
PASSING: Meyersdale-Leydig 7-15-2-111. Portage-Price 5-8-0-80, Dividock 1-1-0-33, Bryja 0-0-0-0.
RECEIVING: Meyersdale-Schrock 4-49, Berkley 2-49, Hoover 1-3, Christner 1-10. Portage-Giles 2-25, Dividock 1-12, C.W. Miller 1-33, Harrison 1-27, Randazzo 1-16.
INTERCEPTIONS: Portage-Price, Co. Kephart.