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Written by: Greg Ricupero on Sunday, November 13th, 2022
Hill too much to climb for Mustangs!
PIAA D6 Football 2nd Round Playoffs
#5 Portage Mustangs (7-4) at #1 Penns Manor (10-1)
Last Meeting week#7 10/7/22 Penns Manor 55 at Portage 28
The Comets and the Mustangs meet for the second time in six weeks. In October it was a shootout in Portage. This time around it was a defensive struggle with Penns Manor punching their ticket to the District 6 Championship next Saturday at Manison Park. Penns Manor would score on their first possession of each half and hold on to beat Portage 21-7. Penns Manor gave Portage a lot of Max Hill, big plays from Carter Smith and a courageous effort from Justin Marshall.
Every week, one of the Comets skill players seem to have a big game to help out Max Hill. Last week it was Justin Marshall. This week it was Carter Smith. Three plays into the game Smith forced the game’s first turnover and the Comets had the ball at the Mustang 40. Hill converted a fourth an 12 from the Mustangs 29 with a run down the left sideline. He than capped the drive with a one yard sneak. The point after was muffed and the Comets led 6-0.
Portage would outplay the Comets the rest of the half. The Mustangs would drive 58 yards taking up the rest of the first quarter and a total of seven and a half minutes all on the ground. Facing a fourth and four from the PM 20, Andrew Mako threw a pass which fell incomplete. The Comets went three and out and Marshall punted. This time the Mustangs would use four minutes and the drive would end at the PM 29 on another Mako incompletion.
The Comets have a lot of talent, but having seen them multiple times this year, I can easily say that at times they are there own worse enemy. In a three minute period the Comets were called for a block in the back on a big run by Hill and two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties. The Comets seemed more angry with teammates than at the Mustangs. The Mustangs were again able to move the ball into the Comets red zone but a fourth down sack by Smith ended the threat and PM went to the lockers up 6-0. As one Portage player said entering the locker room “we should be up 21-6.”
The Comets started the second half in Mustangs territory after a long kick return by Hill. At the Portage 32, the Comets were late getting a play in, they rushed to the line of scrimmage and quickly snapped the ball and than watched Hill race around the left side for a touchdown. Hill passed to Ashton Courvina for the two pointer. It was 14-0 with almost a half to play. Portage went three and out and punted. On the Comets next drive, Marshall who was mainly a decoy on offense due to an injury got his first carry of the game. He would run again when a muffed snap on the punt forced him to scramble. He came up short. The Mustangs were unable to take advantage and punted. Mako hit a high spiral which Hill fumbled, by Smith was able to out fight two Mustangs for the ball. PM would go three and out. The Mustangs starting at their own 35 ran three plays and faced fourth and two. They needed two scores and decided to go for it. They were stuffed. As the fourth quarter started the Comets appeared to be moving in for the kill. But they fumbled the ball away. It took the Mustangs three plays to go 64 yards. Issac Willinsky made a great run, breaking multiple tackles for a 37 yard gain. Two plays later Mako hit a wide open Mason Kargo for the touchdown. Mako added the point after and it was 14-7 with over 10 minutes to play. The Comets needed to step it up or their season could be over. Hill and the offense than went on an eight minute and 43 second touchdown drive. PM converted one fourth down and overcame back to back motion penalties. This time it was Courvina who did the honors. Portage’s season was over. The Comets will play Northern Cambria for the District 6 Single A title next week in Altoona.
Mustangs 0- 0- 0- 7=7
Comets 6- 0- 8- 7=21
PM-Max Hill 1 run 2pt run ng 7:21 (0-6)
PM-Hill 32 run 2pt Ashton Courvina from Hill 10:34 (0-14)
P- Mason Cargo 25 pass from Andrew Miko xp Miko 10:04 (7-14)
PM-Courvina 9 run xp Colton Shields 1:21 (7-21)
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