PORTLAND—There was a lot on the line Friday night at Fitzpatrick Stadium.
The Portland Bulldogs were looking to keep their playoff hopes alive, while the Biddeford Tigers were trying to bounce back from their first defeat and prove that they could put a full game together.
With rain pouring down overhead and soggy turf underfoot, it was the Tigers who controlled the game with an effective ball-control running game and a stout defense. Biddeford took a two-touchdown lead into halftime and was never truly threatened on its way to a 35-7 win.
The Bulldogs, coming off a 22-19 road loss to undefeated Cheverus in which they lead by 12 points in the fourth quarter, dropped to 1-4 on a season that began with high expectations. The postseason now appears out of reach with three games still to play.
Biddeford, having suffered its first setback at home against Scarborough its last time out, improved to 4-1.
The Tigers put together an 18-play, 77-yard scoring drive on their first possession that lasted more than nine minutes. Sixteen of the plays were runs by either senior quarterback Tyler Audie or senior fullback Nick Gagne. The march nearly stalled around midfield, but on fourth-and-3 from the Biddeford 47, Gagne took a handoff on a fake punt and scooted 14 yards down the right sideline for the first down.
Four plays later, Audie connected with senior Ryan Webb on another fourth-and-3 play, this time from the Portland 34. Webb reeled in a tipped pass for 14 yards. It took another seven plays, but Gagne finally capped the drive with a 3-yard touchdown run with 11:54 left in the second quarter. Sophomore Connor Morrison added the first of his five point-after kicks to make it 7-0.
The Bulldogs squandered a 44-yard return on the opening kickoff by junior Michael Herrick that set them up at the Biddeford 35 when they turned the ball over on downs six plays later, then had to endure the Tigers’ methodic, deflating drive. Yet Herrick provided another good return — this time, 30 yards — to give Portland a start at its own 48 for its second possession.
After a 15-yard run by senior Imadhi Zagon gave the Bulldogs a first down at the Biddeford 32, an incompletion, two runs that resulted in negative yards and two penalties forced Portland to punt from midfield.
Biddeford managed only one first down on its next possession, but its punt pinned Portland back at the Bulldogs 15. After a short run by Zagon and an incompletion, senior quarterback Matt McInnis had his pass picked off by Tigers senior defensive back DJ Shannon, setting Biddeford up at the Portland 35.
Four plays later, Audie found senior tight end Dan Tanguay in the front corner of the end zone for a 5-yard touchdown strike. The kick made it 14-0 with 3:36 left in the half, which it stayed until the break.
Biddeford senior Josh Aube began the third quarter with a 63-yard kickoff return that set up Webb’s 31-yard touchdown run a few plays later in which he zigged and zagged through the Portland defense on his way to the end zone. With the kick, it was 21-0 with 10:28 left in the third.
Herrick gave the Bulldogs a glimmer of hope when he returned the ensuing kickoff 85 yards to put Portland on the board. The PAT by senior Feliks Cobanovic made it 21-7 with 10:09 to go in the third.
But the Tigers went back to work on offense, grinding out a 10-play drive that took more than five minutes off the clock. Portland personal foul and pass interference penalties helped the Tigers out, and Webb mixed in an 18-yard run, but it was Audie and Gagne that covered the bulk of the yards. Gagne barreled in from 5 yards out to score with 4:57 left in the third. The kick made it 28-7.
Gagne finished with 93 yards on 25 carries while Audie rushed for 72 on 20 carries. Audie was 3-for-6 passing for 23 yards. Webb ran for 75 yards on just four carries.
Biddeford attempted an unsuccessful onsides kick on the kickoff, not wanting to kick to either Portland deep man — Herrick or Zagon. The Bulldogs took over at the 50 and soon had a first down at the Biddeford 26. After a short run by senior Caleb Kenney, McInnis hit Herrick for a 14-yard gain, but as Herrick was battling for more yards, the ball was jarred loose and Audie recovered inside the 10. Portland would not get inside the Biddeford 30 again.
Webb added a 24-yard TD run with 4:25 left in the game.
Biddeford outgained Portland 278-96.
Zagon, who rolled up 174 yards and two long TDs when Portland defeated Biddeford 35-14 last season, was limited to 50 yards on 14 carries and one catch for 4 yards.
McInnis was 4-for-13 passing for 26 yards.
Portland (which is 12th in the Western A Crabtree Points standings, only the top eight teams qualify for the postseason) returns to action Friday when it plays at winless Gorham at 7 p.m. The Bulldogs also host Windham and go to South Portland, needing to win all three games to have some semblance of postseason hope.
Portland running back Imadhi Zagon is brought down by Biddeford’s Ryan Webb (81) and Dan Tanguay (42) after picking up some yards on Friday night.
Portland quarterback Matt McInnis looks downfield as he prepares to make a pass.
Portland’s Michael Herrick had several big kick returns, including one for his team’s lone touchdown, in Friday night’s 35-7 loss to Biddeford.
Portland’s Nick Volger is tripped up in the backfield by Biddeford’s Patrick Wilson.
Portland wide receiver Michael Herrick has a pass knocked away at the last second by Biddeford’s Patrick Wilson while D.J. Shannon of Biddeford (1) is also in on the play.
Portland’s Nemanja Jankovic (44) and Max Heller (55) wrap up Biddeford’s Nick Gagne Friday night. The Bulldogs fell to 1-4 on the year after a 35-7 home loss.
More photos below
B – 0 14 14 7- 35
P- 0 0 7 0- 7
B – Gagne 3 run (Morrison kick)
B – Tanguay 5 pass from Audie (Morrison kick)
B – Webb 31 run (Morrison kick)
P – Herrick 85 kickoff return (Cobanovic kick)
B – Gagne 5 run (Morrison kick)
B – Webb 24 run (Morrison kick)