Aug. 31,

Portagers lose opener in overtime, 28-22

By GREG GIELCZYK, Sports Editor

ONEKAMA — Marion scored two touchdowns in the final minute of the first half to take a 22-8 lead, and then had to rally for a 28-22 overtime win over Onekama/Bear Lake at Portager Field on Thursday afternoon.
J.J. Randall scored on a 60-yard run around the left end on a pitch-out, and added the two-point conversion to give the Portagers an 8-7 lead with 2:57 left in the second quarter.
But, the Portagers failed to hold the lead going into the break.
The Eagles got one touchdown on a 23-yard run by halfback Kameron Cooper, and capitalized on a recovered fumble to score again barely 50 seconds later, when quarterback Daniel Michell completed a 34-yard touchdown pass to Jared Spaulding with only 3.8 seconds left in the first half.
“Man, those last couple of minutes (of the first half) absolutely killed us,” Portagers’ coach Jim Hunter said after the game. “We gave up two scores, bing, bang ... and that just buried us.
“You have to play well. Marion is a nice football team. No knock on Burr Oak (whom the Portagers beat last week in the season opener), but (Marion) is a bigger school, and they have a nice squad this year.
“I don’t think our kids understood going in just what it takes. We talked to them at halftime, and mentioned that there’s one good thing about playing that bad in the first half ... and that’s the other team kind of tends to think ‘This is pretty easy. All we have to do is step back once in a while, and chuck (pass) it deep, and we’ll score.’
“So, I told the kids that they (the Eagles) would give us an opportunity to get back in it. I thought, defensively, the kids did a fantastic job.”
The Portagers squandered their first scoring opportunity of the second half with an incomplete pass on fourth down at the Marion 10 late in the third quarter.
Although senior quarterback Tayler Fraly fumbled the ball after gaining 10 yards, Clayton Setzer alertly recovered it for the Portagers, giving them a first down on the Eagles’ 18.
Despite giving the ball up on downs, the Portagers got it back four plays later when the defense held and forced the Eagles to punt, and then the Eagles assisted the Portagers with a facemask penalty that moved the ball down to the Marion 35.
Junior running back Chris Dansby burst through the middle for a 25-yard touchdown run. Marion broke up the two-point conversion pass in the end zone, but the Portagers were within eight points, 22-14, with 8:10 left in the fourth period.
Marion squashed another Portagers’ threat with a pass interception at the Eagles’ 10, but Onekama/Bear Lake’s defense stiffened again, forcing another punt.
Getting the ball at their own 27, the Portagers went 63 yards in five plays, with Fraly passing to Setzer for the touchdown with 44.1 seconds left in regulation.
Randall ran in the two-point conversion to tie the game, 22-22. Marion recovered the Portagers’ onside kick at the Onekama/Bear Lake 49, but couldn’t reach the end zone.
The Portagers lost three yards on their first play of overtime, and fumbled it away to Marion on the second.
Marion took two plays to score the game-winner, a three-yard burst by Cooper.
Randall led the Portagers (1-1) in rushing with 167 yards on 20 carries, while Dave Gillespie picked up 98 on 23 tries. The Portagers gained 358 yards rushing overall.
Setzer had two pass receptions for 19 yards, and also led the defense with 11 tackles. Zach Teachout made nine stops, while Randall and Fraly had six tackles apiece.
“We moved the ball pretty well, I thought, the whole second half,” Hunter said. “We talked to the kids, that when you have big opportunities, you have to make plays.
“And, we dropped a couple of interceptions that could have gotten us out of the hole. You just have to make those. There’s much you can do, but keep working with the kids, and get them to believe in themselves.”
The Portagers are at home for their next game, Saturday, Sept. 9, against Manistee Catholic Central/Free Soil.
Greg Gielczyk can be reached at:
Varsity Schedule for 2006

Photos of Cheerleaders
 August 31

Photos by Barb

Football Photos by Dawn