PORTLAND- The Panthers found themselves trailing 14-6 early in the second half of their homecoming game against West Creek on Friday night, but would outscore the Coyotes 25-13 the rest of the way for a 31-27 win.
After last season’s 51-50 shootout between the two sides, this year’s game started much slower. Portland (2-3) struck first as Braden Thornton connected with Freddie Paxton from 25-yards out for the touchdown. The Panthers would miss the extra point, but take a 6-0 lead midway through the opening frame.
It would be the West Creek defense that would get the Coyotes on the board first as Ty’Kease Blanton picked off Cullen Box and returned it for the score. The Coyote extra point would also go no good, to tie things up at 6-6, which is where things would stand at the half.
West Creek (1-2) wasted no time in the second half, as TiAnthony Wagner found Octavious Mahogany from 15-yards out. They would add a 2-point conversion to go up 14-6.
The Panthers answered with a 32-yard field goal from Zach Meador, but West Creek would take go back up 21-9 after an interception set them up at the 2-yard-line.
The fourth quarter would belong to the Panthers with touchdown runs from Thornton, Cade Box, and Jalen Pero, giving Portland a 31-21 lead.
The Coyotes would find the end zone one final time with just over a minute remaining, but Paxton would recover the onside kick to seal the win for Portland.
Portland finished the game with 203 yards on the ground, led by Cade Box with eight carries for 70 yards. Thornton chipped in with 41 yards rushing and another 60 through the air.
Portland returns to region play at home on Friday night as they welcome White House Heritage.