STANDISH — Bonny Eagle scored with 28 seconds remaining to defeat Portland, 25-19, and end the Bulldogs’ season in agonizing fashion Saturday afternoon in a Western Class A quarterfinal round showdown.
Ryan Nason’s third down, 3-yard touchdown pass to Jeff Amell gave the third-seeded Scots their first lead of the day after No. 6 Portland failed to put the game away.
“If we could have gotten a few first downs, we could have shut the door,” said longtime Portland coach Mike Bailey. “That’s all we didn’t do. They are a good football team obviously, and they finished it.”
Bonny Eagle (7-2), the two-time defending Class A state champions, almost didn’t make it out of the quarterfinals this year. Leading 19-18 with 4:13 remaining, Portland was in control, starting a drive on its own 20-yard line. A few first downs could have run out the clock, but instead, three straight runs resulted in the Bulldogs punting to Bonny Eagle with 2:36 left.
Portland forced a fourth-and-14 play where a stop would have locked up the victory, but Nason, on his first play back from an earlier injury, hit Amell down the left sideline for a 17-yard gain and a Bonny Eagle first down.
Later in the drive, the Scots faced fourth-and-three at the 19 and again converted, this time on a run by Joe Davis that would have been a touchdown, but was instead brought back to the 11-yard line due to a holding penalty. Still, it resulted in another Bonny Eagle first down and helped set up the winning score.
“You can only give a good team like that so many touches,” Bailey said. “They had one series too many.”
Until the final drive, Portland’s defense had made all the essential stops. Bonny Eagle pulled within a point with 4:13 remaining on an 80-yard touchdown pass from Nason to Joe Davis. Instead of kicking the extra point for the tie, the Scots opted to go for two and the lead. Portland stuffed the run and remained up by one.
Earlier in the fourth quarter, Portland stopped the Scots on fourth-and-one at their own 26, forcing a turnover on downs and setting the Bulldogs’ offense up with a short field.
Portland took advantage with senior quarterback Gordon Parker hitting Jake Alexander with 23-yard touchdown pass on fourth down. The throw was high, but Alexander out-leaped Davis and scampered 5 yards into the end zone, making it 19-12. The Bulldogs went for two but failed.
Portland had taken the lead on its second possession of the game. Alexander took a handoff in motion and got outside. Streaking down the left sideline, he got a down-field block from Adam Gould and cut back to the inside for a 58-yard touchdown.
Still leading, 7-0, in the second quarter, Portland began to shoot itself in the foot, drawing three flags on a 13-play, 85-yard scoring drive by the Scots that lasted just under seven minutes. After two offsides and a personal foul, Bonny Eagle scored on fourth-and-goal from the 1 with a quarterback keeper by Nason.
“We hurt ourselves,” Bailey said. “We put ourselves behind the eight ball with our penalties. They executed. That’s the bottom line.”
Following the touchdown, Bonny Eagle missed the extra point and still trailed, 7-6, with 2:36 remaining in the half.
Portland quickly widened the margin again, scoring on a 24-yard pass from junior Imadhi Zagon to Alexander, who caught the ball running stride for stride with Ethan Thome and won the footrace to the goal line. Alexander finished the game with three touchdowns, two receiving and one rushing.
The Bulldogs led, 13-6, going into halftime.
Bonny Eagle took the third quarter kickoff and again pulled within a point on another keeper from the 1 yard line by Nason. The drive was helped along by a personal foul penalty on the Bulldogs.
“I talked to them during the week about penalties,” Bailey said. “When you get to the playoffs they are huge. In the regular season they are big, but in the playoffs they are huge.”
The Scots advanced to face No. 2 Windham (8-1) Saturday while Portland’s season comes to an end at 5-4.
“This is definitely a difficult loss to take,” Bailey said. “We’ve been out of the playoffs a few years. We had a 13-year run before that. It’s nice to get in some big games. I’m proud of the kids where they’ve come from the first game up to now.”
“The bottom line is its tough to lose a playoff game because there is no tomorrow,” Bailey added.