The Portage Mustangs Gallop Past Windber 35-7
Written by: Phil Myers on Saturday, September 7th, 2019
Before a packed house at Mustang Stadium, Portage gave the hometown fans something to cheer about as they completely overwhelmed a younger Windber Rambler team in a key WestPac contest. The game was close for a half, but a 64-yard run by Portage QB Connor Price on the opening play of the third quarter took the wind out of the Rambler sails.
“I was impressed with our team tonight. I really was, especially our defense stepped it up tonight. I really liked the play calling Coach (Michael) Fox had tonight on offense. Overall, it was a great win. Last year we were embarrassed and it just ate at us all year,” stated Mustang head coach Gary Gouse. (Windber beat Portage 18-7 in the game Gouse was referring to.)
Portage outgained Windber in total yardage 393 to 136, including 280 to 60 on the ground. The Mustang defense held the Ramblers’ freshman sensation, John Shuster, to just 14 yards on 14 carries. Mr. Shuster had carried the ball 60 times for 405 yards and 6 touchdowns coming into the game.
Portage drew first blood in the opening stanza when drove 77 yards in fourteen plays, using up six minutes on the clock. The key play came on fourth down and one at the Windber 44-yard line. Price plunged through the line to get the first down and keep the drive alive. Three plays later he connected with Josh Morgan for a 22-yard touchdown. Dylan Tubbs kicked the point after and the Mustangs led 7-0.
Windber drove into Portage territory in the second quarter, but the defense of the green and white clad Mustangs closed the door, forcing a punt. Gabe Forst returned the punt 23 yards to set Portage up at their own 36. The ensuing drive took five minutes off the clock and was capped by another Price TD toss. This time it went for 12 yards and Forst was the recipient. Tubbs hit his second of five PATs and with 3:47 left in the half, Portage had a 14-0 advantage which held till the gun sounded to end the second quarter.
Price’s keeper on the first play of the third quarter really seemed to deflate the Ramblers. Windber Coach Matt Grohal stated, “I told the kids (at halftime) that we played about as good as we could for a half, but they came out and hit that big play and that was the dagger.” Portage scored again half way through the third to increase their lead to 28-0 when Scott Berardinelli went off tackle and home free for a 33-yard scamper. Berardinelli ended the game with 95 yards on eleven carries.
On the first play of the fourth quarter Seth Georg scored on a one-yard run and the extra point invoked the Mercy Rule. “They dominated up front. That was the big difference,” observed Grohal. The Ramblers got on the board at the 7:24 mark when freshman Blake Klosky scurried 43 yards setting the final at 35-7 after Evan Custer’s extra point kick.
Price was the offensive star of the game as he hit on 11 of 18 passes for 113 yards and the 2 touchdowns. He also ran for 113 yards on nine carries. “Connor had a great game. Gabe had a great game. And the offensive line did a great job blocking,” Gouse commented. Portage is now 3-0 and travels to undefeated Berlin next Friday for a big conference showdown. Windber drops to 2-1 and plays host to North Star.
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