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Mustangs’ season ended by Dragons’ upset

PORTAGE — Without the services of its most productive running back, the Purchase Line football team did not miss a step in the District 6 Class 1A quarterfinals Friday night.

With junior Josh Syster, who has rushed for 1,370 yards and 15 touchdowns this season, sidelined with an ankle injury, seventh-seeded Purchase Line got yeoman contributions from several other offensive players in posting a 25-6 victory over second-seeded Portage at Portage Stadium.

Senior quarterback Jacob Barnett rushed for 88 yards on 21 carries and scoring runs of 16 yards in the first quarter and 13 in the second, while also completing a 21-yard touchdown pass to senior running back Kyle Day in the third quarter.

Day rushed for 127 yards on 11 carries and senior fullback Cullen Goncher added 102 yards on 20 carries for Purchase Line, which jumped out to a stunning 19-0 lead midway through the second quarter.

Play of the game: After Portage had drawn to within 19-6 at halftime on a 44-yard, second-quarter fumble return for a touchdown by senior defensive tackle Mitchell Miko, Purchase Line regained the momentum and put the game on ice when Day took Barnett’s pass 21 yards to the end zone with 4:16 left in the third quarter to give the Dragons a 25-6 lead.

Player of the game: Call it a tie between Barnett and Day.

Unsung heroes: Purchase Line’s offensive and defensive fronts controlled the trenches as the Dragons dominated both sides of the line of scrimmage for four quarters.

Most vital statistic: Purchase Line compiled 367 yards of rushing offense while Portage managed just 109 yards of total offense.

Purchase Line coach Matt Falisec: “It feels pretty awesome. We were without our best running back, and everybody else stepped up for us tonight. Our kids played tremendously. The first quarter was probably the best we’ve played all season.”

Portage coach Gary Gouse: “They stuck it to us. They punched us really hard in the face, and we didn’t take it well. Physically, they were very tough. They controlled the line of scrimmage on offense and defense, and they ran the ball well without their best running back.”

Barnett: “Our offensive line dominated up front, and gave our backs a chance to make a play.”

Day: “Honestly, we didn’t plan on doing that to Portage. I thought it would be a close game, I thought it would be a battle throughout. That first quarter put something into our heads.”

Portage senior quarterback Connor Price: “We had a week off. But that’s no excuse. We didn’t come out prepared and ready tonight. This is not the way we wanted (the season) to end.”

Notable: Purchase Line scored on its first three offensive possessions, mounting drives of 71 yards on nine plays and 73 yards on eight plays in the first quarter, and 59 yards on seven plays in the second quarter … Purchase Line fashioned a 19-8 edge in first downs.

Records: Portage (8-3); Purchase Line (8-4)

Next week: Purchase Line advances to play the winner of tonight’s quarterfinal game between Homer-Center and Juniata Valley on the road next Saturday in a semifinal matchup.

SCORE BY QUARTERS

Purchase Line 13 6 6 0 — 25

Portage 0 6 0 0 — 6

First Quarter

PL–Day 5 run (McCracken kick), 7:38.

PL–Barnett 16 run (pass failed), 1:06.

Second Quarter

PL–Barnett 13 run (run failed), 7:36.

P–M. Miko 44 fumble return (pass failed), 4:02.

Third Quarter

PL–Day 21 pass from Barnett (kick failed), 4:16.

TEAM STATISTICS PL P

First downs 19 8

Total yards 388 109

Rushes-yards 57-367 27-89

Yards passing 21 20

Passing (comp.-att.-int.) 1-2-0 2-13-0

Punts-avg. 2-28 5-32.5

Fumbles-lost 3-1 2-0

Penalties-yards 6-60 3-20

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING–Purchase Line, Day 11-127, Goncher 20-102, Barnett 21-88, Sanchez 3-37, Brooks 2-13. Portage, Forst 12-74, Price 11-30, Georg 2-0, Beradinelli 2-(-15).

PASSING–Purchase Line, Barnett 1-2-0-21. Portage, Price 2-13-0-20.

RECEIVING–Purchase Line, Day 1-21. Portage, Claar 2-20.

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