Portageville football gets first win, takes down Kelly for third-straight time

Thursday, September 21, 2017
Portageville’s Hunter Gates runs against Kelly during a high school football game Friday at Kelly High School. (Brent Shipman/Standard Democrat)

BENTON, Mo – After a tough, front-loaded schedule left them 0-4 to start the season, the Portageville football team came into Friday’s road game against Kelly looking to turn their season around.

Though they never turned on the turbo-clock, Portageville made sure the game was never in doubt rolling to a 52-22 win.

“Winning is a learning process,” Portageville head coach Jeff Bullock said. “When you’re sitting at 0-4 the kids are having to learn to win. We’re playing basically four kids that played varsity last year. The kids are giving great efforts, but it’s just a process. At times it’s frustrating, but after 0-4, 1-4 looks a whole lot better.”

Portageville scored on their first six drives of the game while ending two of Kelly’s first four drives on an interception and a fumble.

Touchdown runs of 40 and 6 yards from Ian Torrey on the Bulldog’s first two possessions put Portageville ahead 16-0 with 6:44 still to play in the first quarter.

Kelly countered with a scoring drive of their own late in first quarter to keep the game close only to see 30 unanswered points by the Bulldogs blow the game open.

Quarterback keepers from Conner Barham capped back-to-back Portageville drives top open the second quarter, putting the Bulldogs up 30-6 with 9:35 still left in the half.

Barham connected with Hunter Gates for a 47-yard scoring strike soon after and a one-yard touchdown run from Torrey made it 46-6 with 4:14 remaining before the break.

A touchdown pass from Christian Worley to Peyton Eftink in the final minute of the half closed the Hawks within 32 points entering the locker room.

“The offense looked real good in the first half,” Bullock said. “Ian’s a big-time weapon. You move him around and Hunter Gates is a really big weapon as well. It makes defenses move around to adjust to us I think by putting Ian (in the backfield).

“Conner has done has done a good job playing quarterback and he did a great job tonight. It’s a good night to celebrate and be happy for sure.”

The second half wasn’t near as kind for the Bulldogs. After racking up 309 yards of offense in the first two quarters, Portageville only amassed 83 yards and a one more scoring drive after the half.

A fourth quarter touchdown by the Hawks ensured they’d avoid a turbo-clocked finish.

While not as close as Kelly would have liked, the contest was much closer than last year’s 89-0 Bulldog win over Kelly.

Portageville has won all three meetings with Kelly in the Hawk’s short program history.

“It was a lot closer game,” Kelly head coach Lance Powers said. “I told my kids I can’t thank them enough for the way they competed tonight. I know we didn’t get on the right side of the scoreboard. The big plays got us in the first half. We corrected some stuff at halftime and our kids adjusted. I thought they did a great job in the second half.”

Portageville out-gained Kelly 392-223 in total yards.

Their ground attack was led by Torrey’s 124 yards and three scores on 17 carries. Hunter Gates gained 86 yards on just three carries.

Barham was 10 for 18 through the air for 174 yards while also rushing for three touchdowns. His favorite target was Gates, who caught seven passes for 130 yards.

For the Hawks, Worley threw for 118 yards and three scores, connecting on 8 of 15 passes. Landon Hahs caught a pair of touchdown passes, including a 30-yarder, and Eftink caught the other.

Trystan Wohlfred rushed for 65 yards on 16 carries and Sam Jett carried six times for 45 yards.

“Our offense had series where we were doing a good job,” Powers said. “Even when we came up short I thought our offense did a good job. The turnovers got us a little bit. We had a couple fumbled snaps, but I can’t complain with what Christian did tonight. He did a great job kept his eyes downfield and completed some passes and kept the game going.”

Kelly falls to 2-3 on the year while Portageville moves to 1-4.

Bullock hopes his team’s trying start to the year will help lead to some more wins down the stretch.

“To the best of my knowledge it may be the first time we’ve lost four in a row in the six years I’ve been here,” Bullock said. “It’s very frustrating. We knew when they season started those first four games were really tough. We played three state-ranked teams and the fourth team, Chaffee, is a solid team as well.

“We knew it’d be a tough stretch and we told the kids let’s come out of those first four and see what happens. They came out played well. Now there’s some teams on our schedule that are still really good teams, but we match up better with them.”