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Portland football takes it on the chin; Bulldogs fall, 55-20, at Bonny Eagle

Sports

Portland football takes it on the chin; Bulldogs fall, 55-20, at Bonny Eagle

STANDISH—The Portland High football team entered the 2010 season considered by many to be a legitimate contender in Western Maine Class A, but after Friday night's visit to Bonny Eagle's Stadium Field, it's clear the Bulldogs still have a lot of work to do.

Before the game was eight minutes old, Portland had already gone three-and-out three times on offense and allowed a trio of Bonny Eagle touchdowns. It didn't get much better from there, as the Scots rolled to a 55-20 home win.

"They came out quick and got us on our heels and we never recovered," said Portland coach Mike Bailey. "They beat us in all aspects of the game. The offensive and defensive line beat us off the ball. They were obviously a much, much better football team tonight. They were just better than we were. They stopped our offense completely and pretty much threw the ball at will."

It was a much different scene than the last time the Bulldogs made the ride to Standish for the Western Maine Class A quarterfinals a year ago. Portland, back in the playoffs after a short hiatus, had the higher-seeded Scots - then the two-time defending state champs - on the ropes before allowing a touchdown in the waning seconds and losing 25-19.

Already sitting at 0-1 after losing to cross-\town rival Deering in the final moments of this year's season opener, Portland was hoping to avenge that playoff loss, but the Scots had other plans.

Portland won the opening toss and elected to receive. Three plays netted eight yards and the Bulldogs were forced to punt. The Scots took over at the Portland 46 and needed just one offensive play to get on the scoreboard. Nick Adkins took a handoff and broke down the left sideline on a 46-yard TD scamper. Nate Martel's first of seven PATs made it 7-0 with 9:36 left in the first quarter.

An incompletion and two short runs forced Portland to punt again. The Scots took over at their own 46 and overcame two penalties early in the drive to march in for another score as quarterback Matt Rollins led the team downfield with his feet and his arm. He completed three passes for 42 yards on the drive and carried four times for 26 yards, including a 2-yard TD plunge. It was 14-0 with 5:23 left in the opening quarter.

The next three plays for the Bulldogs resulted in minus-3 yards and they had to punt again. The Scots took over at the Portland 41. After a penalty, Rollins connected with Cam Cooper on a 46-yard TD pass to make it 21-0 with 4:10 still left in the first quarter, leaving the Bulldogs reeling.

Bailey said Bonny Eagle simply came out faster and more intense.

"I think it was quickness off the ball," Bailey said. "I think it was desire. They were fired up, certainly, for their home opener. It's a great program and we just weren't prepared."

Things nearly got even worse for Portland on its next possession, but an apparent interception was called back due to a pass interference call. The Bulldogs took advantage, covering 65 yards on a six-play scoring drive that was helped out by a Bonny Eagle unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Senior quarterback Imadhi Zagon found junior Michael Herrick open over the middle behind the defense for a 26-yard scoring strike to put Portland on the board. The extra point by senior Feliks Cobanovic made it 21-7 with 1:37 left in the first.

But any comeback hopes were soon snuffed out by the Scots, who continued to move the ball without a problem. Their next drive covered 69 yards in eight plays, the final one a 36-yard touchdown run by Ethan Thorne, who broke several tackles and dragged a defender with him into the end zone. The kick made it 28-7 with 10:04 left until halftime.

Portland again was forced to punt after picking up only three yards and Bonny Eagle appeared poised to add another score as the punt return set the Scots up at the Portland 26. But Bonny Eagle fumbled on third-and-inches from the 1 and Portland's senior Nemanja Jankovic was there to recover.

After picking up a couple first downs on the ground, however, Zagon was picked off by Rollins at midfield. Nine plays later, Rollins found tight end Jeff Amell in the corner of the end zone for the fifth Bonny Eagle touchdown of the half with 1:54 left. With the PAT, it was 35-7, which it remained entering the break.

In the first half, Bonny Eagle racked up 177 yards on the ground and 142 in the air while limiting Portland's vaunted running duo of Zagon and Will Walsh to 48 combined rushing yards on 16 carries.

"Our guys had a great week of preparation," said Bonny Eagle coach Kevin Cooper, whose Scots defeated Westbrook 36-0 in the opener. "They worked really hard. We knew it was going to be a challenge this week because they've got some very good players and Portland is always very well coached. We were ready to go. Our guys usually respond to the challenge, and that's what they did tonight."

With the ball to start the second half, the Scots kept the foot on the gas. Thorne, who finished with 132 yards on nine carries, capped a 66-yard drive with a 15-yard scoring run a mere 73 seconds into the third quarter. The kick made it 42-7.

Portland again failed to pick up a first down and a late hit on the punt return set Bonny Eagle up with prime field position at the Portland 42. Adkins carried five straight times, the final one for an 8-yard TD. The kick made it 49-7 with 5:56 left in the third, and the Scots' starters got to enjoy the rest of the contest from the sidelines.

A 35-yard return on the ensuing kickoff by Zagon gave Portland a short field and 20-yard runs by Zagon and sophomore Nick Volger set up a 20-yard TD run by Walsh with 3:59 left in the third.

Nick Wayne added a 19-yard touchdown run for the Scots with 11:53 left in the fourth quarter. With 4.7 seconds left in the game, Portland junior Jason Webster rushed in for a 4-yard score.

Zagon finished with 53 yards on 11 carries. He was 2-of-6 passing for 28 yards with one TD and one interception. Walsh had 38 yards on 11 carries.

For Bonny Eagle, Adkins added 108 yards on nine carries and Rollins gained 53 yards on 11 carries while completing 9-of-11 passes for 142 yards.

Portland will try to notch its first win this Thursday when it hosts Westbrook at 7 p.m. The Blue Blazes are coming off a 34-22 home loss to South Portland.

 "We've just got to try to regroup," Bailey said. "You're not going to dwell on a loss like this. You've got to put it behind you fast and try to get better for next week to try to beat Westbrook. The goal is to get in the playoffs."

Photo: Tom Minervino / For The Forecaster

Portland senior Imadhi Zagon looks for running room during Friday night's contest.

Photo: Tom Minervino / For The Forecaster

Sophomore Caleb Frasier looks for an open receiver Friday night.

Photo: Tom Minervino / For The Forecaster

Portland senior Caleb Kenney throws his weight around and makes a tackle during Friday's loss. The Bulldogs surrendered 55 points to a powerhouse Bonny Eagle offense.

Photo: Tom Minervino / For The Forecaster

Senior Will Walsh returned from injury and played, breaking a couple tackles on this nice run.

Photo: Tom Minervino / For The Forecaster

Junior Nick Deering makes a tackle during Friday's loss.