PORTAGE | Despite facing a possible 0-5 start in the Duneland Athletic Conference for the first time in school history, the Portage football team insisted it wasn’t paying attention anything but Michigan City this week.
Rashaan Coleman ran for 164 yards and two touchdowns as the Indians pulled out their first DAC win of the year, knocking off the Wolves 24-21 in front of a spirited homecoming crowd at the Warpath.
When the final seconds ticked off the clock students poured out of the stands and danced with the players, celebrating a win that kept the Indians from setting some dubious history.
“This is my favorite win of any that I’ve had in my career,” Coleman said. “Everyone came out tonight. They are still supporting this team regardless of any record that we might have.”
The Indians (2-5, 1-4) played tight games against DAC powers Merrillville and Chesterton this season and Coleman knew it was a matter of time before it all came together for Portage.
“We’ve been getting close lately, but sometimes the cookie crumbles a different way,” Coleman said. “Michigan City is a very talented team and we have a lot of respect for them. We knew this was going to be a tough game with them.”
Both teams traded touchdowns throughout the first half and it wasn’t until the third quarter that the Indians took their first lead of the night when Coleman scored his second touchdown of the evening. The Wolves marched down the field on their next possession, but the drive ended when sophomore quarterback Ryan Washington threw his third interception of the evening and the second to Portage senior Diondre Griffin.
“I watched a lot of film coming into this game,” Griffin said. “The second pick was real big. The team had a lot of momentum and I’m just glad I was able to make play for my team.”
The Indians worked the ground game for much of their offense with quarterback Gage Pearman rushing for 55 yards and a touchdown. Hashim Simpson added 68 yards on the ground, but it was Coleman who got the ball when Portage needed to run out the clock late in the game.
“Last week we gave up a touchdown and this week I wasn’t going to let my guys down,” Coleman said. “I knew I just had to get it done.”
The game appeared over after Nathan Johnson connected on a 30-yard field goal with 38 seconds remaining, but the Wolves made things interesting when Washington connected with Marquis Martin on an 80-yard touchdown pass. Michigan City had one final chance with an on-side kick, but Portage recovered and took a knee to end the game, sparking off a wild celebration.
“Just awesome to have all the fans out there with us,” Pearman said. “That was something to remember.”