PORTLAND – A young, upstart Portland High stayed with favored Thornton Academy all night. But two missed conversions doomed the Bulldogs as Thornton left Fitzpatrick Stadium with a 14-12 victory Thursday night.

Portland scored with 2:26 left in the third period to close to 14-12, and appeared to tie the game when quarterback Jayvon Pitts-Young threw to Seamus Kilbride for the 2-point conversion.

But the officials ruled that Kilbride had run out of the end zone and then came back in, making him an ineligible receiver.

Earlier, Portland missed an extra-point kick after an illegal procedure penalty made it even more difficult for the Bulldogs (2-4).

“We’re just not consistent right now,” Coach Mike Bailey said of the extra points. “But I’m very, very pleased. Even though we lost, I thought we took some big steps tonight.”

Pitts-Young, a sophomore, threw for 81 yards and ran for 55. Tailback Nick Volger ran for 68 yards.

Thornton (5-1) outgained Portland 227-216 thanks to the arm of quarterback Eric Christensen (5 of 7 for 152 yards) and the hands of 6-foot-4, 225-pound tight end Dakota Tarbox (four catches, 142 yards).

Two Christensen-Tarbox connections made the difference — a 69-yard score on the Trojans’ second play and a 48-yard completion that set up Christensen’s 2-yard sneak for a touchdown.

“He’s a big kid with good hands,” Christensen said of Tarbox.

“I like throwing to him. He’s a playmaker.”

And kicker Brandon Briggs followed those big plays with extra-point kicks.

But the Trojans, coming off a win over previously unbeaten Deering, sputtered at times.

“I thought we were flat,” Thornton Coach Kevin Kezal said. “We’re frustrated right now. It almost feels like a loss for some of our guys.

“We’re happy we got the win but give Portland credit.”

Portland drove 76 yards in 13 plays on the opening drive, using 6 minutes, 39 seconds.

On fourth-and-17 from the Thornton 28, Pitts-Young found Kilbride cutting across the middle for a touchdown and a 6-0 lead.

Just 55 seconds later, Christensen dropped back and delivered a strike to Tarbox slanting up the middle. He sprinted untouched for a 69-yard touchdown.

Thornton took the second-half kickoff and faced a third-and-9 from its 41. Christensen lobbed a long pass down the right sidelines and Tarbox pulled it in for the 45-yard gain.

After a 9-yard run by Nick Kenney (61 yards on 17 carries), Christensen scored for a 14-6 lead.

Portland came back. Volger’s 54-yard run to the 1 set up Pitts-Young’s sneak for a score.

The 2-point play was perfectly executed with Pitts-Young drawing a crowd of defenders before tossing to a wide-open Kilbride. But the referee immediately ruled Kilbride ineligible.

In the fourth quarter, Portland recovered a fumble at the Thornton 31 but never got closer to the goal line.

 

Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be contacted at 791-6411 or at:

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