SOUTH PORTLAND – If Joey DiBiase was exhausted, there was a good reason he didn’t show it moments after South Portland handed Massabesic its first football loss of the season.

While DiBiase handled the bulk of the offense in the first half of the 39-7 victory, the Red Riots’ defense handled the brunt of the work in the second half.

Friday night at Martin Field, DiBiase — one of the two players named Joey DiBiase on South Portland’s roster — ran for three touchdowns and 171 yards on 27 carries, but the Red Riots faced Massabesic’s best scoring threat when the Mustangs got to South Portland’s 4 on a drive that bridged the third and fourth quarters.

In the opening seconds of the fourth, Massabesic’s hit the ground well behind the line, and Brendan Horton scooped up the loose ball, going untouched for a 96-yard touchdown return.

“We’re just not going to quit,” said DiBiase, a senior running back. “We’re here to win. I had faith in the team and the defense played really well. We (beat) a team that came in 3-0 and there’s not much else you can say. We played really well.”

Even with that drive, combined with South Portland taking a 20-point halftime lead, the loss came down to one factor for the Mustangs (3-1).

“They’re a good football team that came to play,” Massabesic Coach John Morin said. “There was nothing about jumping on us or anything like that. They came to play and we didn’t match their level of physical play, nor did we match their level of intensity. That was a good, solid effort by a team that was ready to play. If you’re going to have a great football game, you’ve got to have two teams that are ready to play at the same level of physical play, emotional play, they have to be in the game mentally and not making mistakes.

“One team didn’t answer that tonight.”

The Red Riots (3-1) broke a 7-7 tie with 41.8 seconds left in the first quarter on DiBiase’s 2-yard run, then scored on their next two possessions — DiBiase’s 1-yard run and Logan Gaddar’s 32-yard reception, both in the second quarter — to take a 27-7 lead at halftime.

In the first half, DiBiase scored two touchdowns and ran for 118 yards on 19 carries, and quarterback Michael Salvatore scored South Portland’s opening touchdown, ran for 49 yards on seven carries and completed six passes for 90 yards.

“A lot of that came down to the line,” DiBiase said. “They’ve been working really hard since the season started. They were really inexperienced and they pulled together. They worked real, real, real hard. And (South Portland quarterback) Michael Salvatore, he’s like a back in the backfield. He’s hard to stop.”

After Massabesic blocked Horton’s 21-yard field-goal attempt 3:30 into the second half, the Mustangs built their first extended drive since Jake Desrochers’ first-quarter touchdown, converting twice on fourth down to reach the Red Riots’ 4 on 17 plays. But Horton’s fumble recovery on third-and-goal extended South Portland’s lead to 33-7. On the next drive, DiBiase scored his third touchdown, a 1-yard run with 7:47 left.

Staff Writer Rachel Lenzi can be reached at 791-6415 or at:

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