PORTAGE | Top-ranked Penn looked every bit the part against Portage in the Class 6A sectional opener.
The No. 1 Kingsmen put up 356 yards of total offense and kept Portage off the scoreboard until late in the game to pick up a 28-7 win over the Indians on Friday night.
Penn quarterback Zachary Oakley rushed for 181 yards and two long scores and threw for 103 yards and another score.
“They’ve got a really nice team,” Portage coach Wally McCormack said. “They’re well coached, and they don’t make mistakes. They’re what we’re trying to become.”
Oakley took an option keeper 72 yards for a score on 3rd-and-long midway through the third quarter to put the Kingsmen (10-0) ahead 21-0.
Portage (6-4) found the end zone with 7:24 to go in the game on a 16-yard pass from Gage Pearman to Cody Maldonado.
The Portage scoring drive started at the Penn 42-yard line after the Indians recovered an Oakley fumble. Taylor Sebben caught two passes on the drive for 30 yards.
Pearman finished with 19 completions for 197 yards. Maldonado caught five passes for 72 yards.
Two plays after the Portage score, Oakley went 48 yards for his second touchdown of the game.
Portage followed with a 20-play drive that ended with the Indians being stopped on 4th-and-goal from the 1-yard line.
The Indians were stopped on four tries from the 1-yard line. It was the second time Portage was stopped on downs with 4th-and-short.
“We didn’t do a good job in short-yardage situations all night,” McCormack said. “They whipped us in those situations.””
The Kingsmen got on the scoreboard first on a one-yard touchdown run from Khalil Fleming. The run capped an 11-play, 74-yard drive.
After Timothy Deal picked off a Pearman pass, the Kingsmen needed just five plays to get back into the end zone. Nathan Miller had a 17-yard catch and run to give Penn a 14-0 lead.
Portage ran the two-minute drill almost to perfection at the end of the first half. The Indians drove down to the Penn 3-yard line, but a halfback pass on the last play of the half fell incomplete.
After starting the year 1-3, the Indians, who had 24 seniors on the roster, won five games in a row to finish above .500 for the first time since 2008.
“Most people predicted us to win two or three games, and for those guys to battle, they changed the attitude and perceptions around town and around the school of Portage football and what it’s supposed to be like,” McCormack said.