SOUTH PORTLAND — South Portland knew Massabesic’s triple-option running attack was coming, but there was nothing the Red Riots could do to stop it Friday night at Martin Memorial Field.

The Mustangs gradually wore down South Portland, and behind 168 yards on 29 carries from Owen Roberts, ran their way to a 26-14 victory.

Massabesic forced two turnovers, won its third consecutive contest and improved to 3-1.

“We just had to settle down after getting off the bus, but we got comfortable and played hard,” said Mustangs Coach Eric Ouellette. “Our linemen have worked hard and they came off the ball quickly.”

South Portland forced a three-and-out to start the game, then needed just two plays to go on top, as Connor Dobson broke free down the left side, then juked a defender before completing a 54-yard touchdown run. Frank Tierney’s extra point made it 7-0 with 9:35 left in the first quarter.

Massabesic took over from there.

The Mustangs got their offense going, as Roberts rushed six times for 50 yards to set up a 1-yard scoring run by Ryan St. Laurent. The PAT failed, however, and South Portland held a 7-6 advantage after one quarter.

The Red Riots stayed ahead until Massabesic marched 66 yards on 11 plays just before halftime. With 16.5 seconds remaining in the half, quarterback Nick Roberge bulled in from the 1. The 2-point conversion was no good, but the Mustangs had 12-7 lead at the break.

Massabesic held South Portland on downs and took over at the Red Riots’ 38 early in the third quarter. That led to another rushing touchdown, this one by Roberts from the 2, and even though the extra point was blocked, the Mustangs had an 18-7 advantage.

“It all came together in the huddle, actually,” said Roberts. “We talked about coming together as one and the whole team made it happen.”

Massabesic ended all doubt 2 minutes into the fourth quarter, when Roberge tossed on the option to St. Laurent, who scored from the 5. Roberge then hit Ricky Hendrix for a 2-point conversion pass.

The Red Riots, who were playing without injured quarterback Anthony Poole, got a late 9-yard TD strike from Luca Desjardins to Isaac Sobey.

“We haven’t won in a long time,” said Ouellette. “We can do a lot more. We’re playing some tough, well-coached teams coming up, and we have a big test next week against Kennebunk. That’s a big measuring stick for us.”

South Portland got 92 passing yards from Desjardins and 66 rushing yards from Dobson, but saw its two-game winning streak end.

“The triple option is nearly impossible to prepare for,” said Red Riots Coach Aaron Filieo. “(Roberts) is a very good football player. They rode him as long as they could.
“(Our guys) wanted to win on their Homecoming, but in this conference, every week is a dogfight. Gorham next week will be the same; I expect the guys will respond.”

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