South Portland’s resurgent football team had plenty of motivation Friday night when it showed up at Fitzpatrick Stadium to face Portland in the teams’ annual Battle of the Bridge showdown.

Not only were the Red Riots coming off a dramatic come-from-behind victory at Gorham last week, but they were still stinging over a 35-point loss to the Bulldogs last fall.

And in a season full of highlights, South Portland earned its most enjoyable victory, riding a strong rushing game and a smothering defense to a 35-7 victory.

Quarterback Anthony Poole ran for three touchdowns and passed for another, and Luca Desjardins sparked the defense with a pair of interceptions as the Red Riots improved to 4-2 on the season.

“It means so much to us,” said Poole, who ran for 116 yards and threw for 68 more. “We always have this game circled on the schedule. This rivalry goes back a long way and it feels good to take it home for our city.”

After a scoreless first quarter, South Portland got its offense going and went on top to stay when Poole bulled in from the 1 on fourth down, capping a 10-play, 65-yard drive that was highlighted by a 46-yard burst from Keenan Jones (12 rushes, 116 yards).

“We try to spread the ball around and (Jones is) a really good football player,” said South Portland Coach Aaron Filieo. “(Portland’s) pretty good inside, and our line made some adjustments and got us going.”

After Desjardins intercepted a pass at Portland’s 34, the Red Riots struck again and went up 14-0 on a 4-yard Poole run.

“I think we were prepared this week,” said Desjardins. “We stuck to our keys and our drops, and everything worked out. We went into this knowing (Portland) was a good team. We didn’t treat them as 0-5.”

In the first half, South Portland enjoyed a 170-36 advantage in yardage.

When Jones broke free for a 49-yard scoring run in the third period, the Red Riots went up by 21, but the Bulldogs then embarked on a 14-play drive to get back in the game. Jamal Moriba gained 25 yards on third-and-25, then Sam Knop picked up 27 on a reverse before Moriba (69 yards on 19 carries) capped the march with an 8-yard scoring run to cut the deficit to 21-7 after three quarters.

But that was Portland’s lone highlight. With 8:45 left, Poole broke through a hole on the right side and rumbled home for a 36-yard touchdown, and after Desjardins’ second interception, South Portland faked a field-goal attempt and Poole hit Connor Dobson for a 17-yard touchdown.

The Red Riots’ defense slammed the door from there.

“The guys worked hard and they deserved it,” said Filieo, a one-time player and assistant coach for South Portland. “It’s been a long time since I’ve been involved in a Bridge game. I was excited to be a part of it. We needed a win. This puts us in a good position.”

UPDATE: This story was corrected at 10:20 a.m. on Oct. 12 to show that Anthony Poole is the quarterback for South Portland High.

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