Saturday, December 7, 2013
By GREG REID Special to the Press Herald
PORTLAND - If the Portland High football players are still learning, they're on track for some pretty good grades by season's end.
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Justin Zukowski ran for 132 yards and two touchdowns, the Bulldogs returned a blocked punt for a touchdown, and Ryan Ruhlin ran for a touchdown and threw for another as Portland rolled to a 35-0 win over Noble in a driving rain Friday night at Fitzpatrick Stadium.
"We're still learning," said Portland Coach Jim Hartman. "The offense isn't complicated but it takes a while to learn, to see the holes and get through them. We have to be patient."
Portland's wing-T offense gained 323 yards, and the Bulldogs (4-1) held the Knights to 95 yards.
"We were overmatched up front," Noble Coach Tom Daubney said. "
We have sophomores on the line and there was a big difference in size, experience and age."
Mix in the rain and early momentum, and the Knights were in trouble.
Toward the end of a back-and-forth opening quarter, Jacob Guimond picked off Ruhlin's first pass at the Noble 10 and brought it to the 19. Portland held, setting up fourth down on the Noble 24 to force a punt.
Abe Marr rushed in and blocked it, Jake Fogel picked the ball up on the 10 and ran it in.
"We got a really good rush, which is surprising because they're pretty strong," Fogel said. "A couple of guys got in on the punter, got a hold of the ball and I was just in the right place at the right time. It was my first touchdown. It felt awesome. And it was because of the play of the guys around me."
The first of Kyle Reichert's five successful point-afters put Portland ahead 7-0.
"We wanted to contain their sweep and their dive," Daubney said. "We contained the sweep but they killed us on the dive."
That was where Zukowski struck time and again. In the second quarter he ran five straight plays for 37 yards to put the ball on the Noble 13.
"I love blocking for (him)," said Tate Gayle, who plays guard. "Even if you mess up your blocking assignment, he can still get five yards out of it."
Ruhlin found Garang Majok in the back left corner of the end zone for a 13-yard strike and the Bulldogs led, 14-0.
Zukowski added TD runs of 3 and 8 yards in the second half to make it 28-0, and Ruhlin ran in from the 1 to make it 35-0 with 11:24 to play.
Noble failed to cross midfield until the final play of the first half. The Knights (3-2) entered Portland's half of the field with 10:20 to play in the game, and didn't run a play from scrimmage in the Bulldogs' red zone until five minutes were left.
"We had a pretty good idea of what they would run at us," said Gayle, who led the team with seven tackles. "Noble's a good team. We play tough defense and we take pride in that."
"After the last couple of down years it's great to be 4-1," said senior Nick Volger, who ran the ball eight times for 30 yards. "We're working hard to get better every week and restore some pride in Portland football. We just need to keep moving forward and get ready for Biddeford."