Mustangs get knocked off by Ramblers

WINDBER — Portage coach Gary Gouse didn’t mince words when assessing his team’s performance Friday night in an 18-7 loss at Windber, which was the Mustangs’ first defeat of the season.

“We were outplayed and outcoached,” Gouse said. “They came to play, and we didn’t. We came out flat and didn’t have our hearts in the game, and that’s on me. Their staff and players deserve all the credit.”

Portage (2-1) fell behind early, thanks to three first-half turnovers, and the Ramblers (2-1) kept the normally high-scoring Mustang offense in check as Windber surrendered just 165 total yards.

“You have to capitalize on mistakes against a good team,” Windber coach Matt Grohal said. “I’m proud of what our guys were able to do tonight.”

The Ramblers controlled the action early on, and subsequent timely plays on defense and special teams kept the Mustangs at bay later in the contest.

Portage was pinned deep and forced to punt from the goal line on their opening series, setting Windber in prime field position at the Mustang 31. The Ramblers picked up one first down but eventually had to settle for Evan Custer’s 35-yard field goal that made it 3-0.

Later in the opening quarter, Windber’s Jeremy Layton recovered a Portage fumble at the Rambler 48. From there, a 23-yard run on third down by Landan Gipe helped set up a 4-yard touchdown run by Chase Bassett that put Windber ahead 9-0 with just under 10 minutes left in the half.

The Ramblers then caught the Mustangs by surprise with an onside kick that was recovered by Windber at the Portage 41. Eight plays later, Tommy Hanik connected with Custer on a 15-yard touchdown strike that opened up an eventual 15-0 advantage at the break.

Portage appeared poised to close that gap on the initial possession of the third quarter and make it a one-possession game. The Mustangs controlled the ball for 15 plays and chewed up nearly 7 minutes on a drive that went to the Windber 11. However, quarterback Connor Price was sacked for a 7-yard loss on fourth down to end the threat.

From there, Windber put together a drive of its own that covered 11 plays, keyed by 14-yard runs from Hanik and Bassett as well as a Portage pass interference penalty. The Mustang defense kept Windber out of the end zone, but Custer again split the uprights from 31 yards out to make it a three-possession game at 18-0 with 11:50 remaining.

Price completed 3-of-5 passes during a 77-yard scoring drive aided by a Windber pass interference penalty, and Price put the Mustangs on the board with an 8-yard touchdown run at the 9:19 mark.

However, Portage was unable to recover the subsequent onside kick, and Windber ran off over five minutes before being stopped on downs at the Mustang 24.

Portage mounted one more scoring threat before Custer effectively sealed the outcome with a red-zone interception of Price with just over three minutes on the clock.

SCORE BY QUARTERS

Portage 0 0 0 7 — 7

Windber 3 12 0 3 — 18

First Quarter

W– Custer 35 FG, 5:47

Second Quarter

W– Bassett 4 run (kick failed), 9:49.

W– Custer 15 pass from Hanik (pass failed), 6:50.

Fourth Quarter

W– Custer 31 FG, 11:50.

P– Price 8 run (Kargo kick), 9:19.

TEAM STATISTICS P W

First downs 16 18

Total yards 165 244

Rushes-yards 35-125 46-179

Yards passing 40 65

Passing (comp.-att.-int.) 4-10-1 5-15-1

Punts-avg. 3-24 1-36

Fumbles-lost 4-3 2-1

Penalties-yards 8-65 10-98

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING– Portage, Price 25-70, George 6-35, Sossong 3-11, Forst 1-9. Windber, Layton 20-61, Bassett 14-59, Hanik 7-22, Gipe 4-42, TEAM 1-minus 5.

PASSING– Portage, Price 4-10-1-40. Windber, Hanik 5-12-0-65, Layton 0-3-1-0.

RECEIVING– Portage, Koenigsberg 1-14, Forst 1-7, George 1-11, Kozlovac 1-8. Windber, Layton 2-35, Custer 2-22, Gipe 1-8.

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