SOUTH PORTLAND — Playoff positions were already set, but there was still a lot on the line in Saturday’s 102nd Battle of the Bridge between visiting Portland and South Portland.

Just ask South Portland senior defensive tackle/offensive guard Nick Penney, who keyed an aggressive defensive front and helped quarterback Jack Poole account for 300 of the Red Riots’ 326 total yards in a 34-17 victory at Martin Memorial Field.

“It’s the Bridge game, man. It’s one of the biggest games of the season for us,” Penney said. “It’s our last (regular-season) game. It’s so big for us, and this win meant so much for every one of us on this team.”

South Portland’s win snapped a four-game losing streak to Portland. South Portland leads the all-time series, 55-44-3.

The Red Riots (4-4) finished fourth in Class A South and will host Sanford (4-4) in a regional quarterfinal, probably next Saturday. South Portland is 4-0 at home this season, including a 28-7 win against Sanford.

Saturday’s no-turnover effort – highlighted by two second-half scoring drives to immediately answer after Portland twice cut the lead to 10 – showed South Portland’s difficult 2-7 season in 2016 is in the rear-view mirror.

“For us to overcome some of the stuff we’ve had to overcome the last couple of years, to (be 4-4), to have a Bridge championship and a home playoff game and to be undefeated at home is just an amazing accomplishment,” said South Portland Coach Steve Stinson.

Poole completed 10 of 13 passes for 200 yards, with a 20-yard touchdown pass to running back Spencer Houlette (three catches, 94 yards) in the first half and a 17-yard strike to 6-foot-5, 220-pound sophomore tight end Hunter Owen (four catches, 45 yards) in the second half.

Poole also rushed for 100 yards, with touchdown runs of 6 and 3 yards.

South Portland’s win finalized the order for Class A South’s three 7-1 teams. Scarborough secured the top spot by beating Bonny Eagle on Friday. With South Portland’s win, Thornton finishes second. Bonny Eagle is third and will host Deering (1-7) in a regional quarterfinal.

Portland (2-6) finished sixth in Class A North. The Bulldogs will be at No. 3 Oxford Hills/Buckfield in quarterfinals.

Oxford Hills beat Portland 20-14 to open the season, but Terion Moss had yet to take over as Portland’s quarterback. Moss showed he’s a playmaker on Saturday, scrambling away from near constant pressure for 110 rushing yards and capping a pair of second-half drives with touchdown passes to tight end Nico Leavitt (four catches, 44 yards) and Vinnie Pasquali.

Each time, Poole and South Portland countered. After Zack Johnson returned a kickoff 59 yards, Poole gained 14 yards on a run and then connected with Owen for a 27-13 lead.

Keyed by a 29-yard Moss-to-Zach Elowitch pass, Portland put together a 77-yard drive, capped by Moss’ 8-yard pass to Pasquali with 6:37 to play.

South Portland grinded out the clock with a 68-yard drive, finished by Riley Campbell’s 1-yard run with 24 seconds left.

Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or:

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Twitter: SteveCCraig

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