SOUTH BERWICK — Even though Portland High was undefeated, most people viewed host Marshwood High as the favorite Friday night in their Class B South football showdown.

So the Bulldogs went out and made a statement.

Spurred by an overwhelming and balanced running game, Portland controlled the game throughout, defeating the Hawks 28-14. The Bulldogs got 236 rushing yards from three backs, led by Brandon Boyle with 106 (and two touchdowns) and Reegan Buck with 80. Kennedy Charles added 50 yards and a touchdown.

“I don’t think you can overplay one guy on our offense because we have so many guys we can get the ball to,” said Portland Coach Jason McLeod. “And every week it changes. There’s somebody stepping up every single week. And that’s a good thing. It forces defenses to really spread out and gives our athletes creases to run the ball.”

The victory lifted the Bulldogs to 5-0, while Marshwood dropped to 3-2.

“They ran the ball very well and we didn’t have an answer for it,” said Marshwood Coach Alex Rotsko. “They were tough. We’ve got to play a lot better than we did today.”

The Bulldogs took control in a very short span in the second quarter.

After a scoreless first quarter, the Bulldogs struck on the first play of the second with a perfectly thrown 35-yard pass from Grant Crosby to Aiden DiMillo. Cristo Vumpa’s PAT kick made it 7-0.

After the Hawks were forced to punt, Romano McIllwain blocked the kick and Portland had the ball on the 8.

Two plays later, Charles rumbled in from the 2, giving the Bulldogs two touchdowns in 2:19 and a 14-0 lead.

Marshwood answered with a 19-yard touchdown pass from Aiden Sullivan to Tim Gori with 23 seconds left in the first half, but the Bulldogs didn’t panic.

“A mental mistake,” said Buck, who gained 74 yards in the second half. “We knew what we did and we knew what we were going to do to bounce back.”

And that, he said, meant that, “We kept pounding it, pounding it, pounding it.”

That they did. The Bulldogs received the second-half kickoff and went 62 yards in 15 plays, scoring on a 2-yard run by Boyle.

“That drive took a lot of time off the clock,” said Rotsko. “There’s not much you can do if you don’t have the ball.”

Marshwood responded by driving to Portland 24, but a fourth-down incompletion on the last play of third quarter ended the threat. And Portland kept the ball from the Hawks in the fourth quarter with inside runs by Boyle and bursts to the outside by Buck.

“We challenged the kids early in the week,” said McLeod. “The biggest thing we wanted to do is be physical. We challenged the line all week to be physical and they really came out today and did that.”

“We just started balling out,” said Buck. “I just love my line. They kept pushing and pushing until the game was over.”

Boyle got the final touchdown, another 2-yard run with 1:17 remaining.

“Big statement,” said Boyle, noting that only one person in the Portland Press Herald’s weekly picks picked Portland to win. “This shows them that we’re a top team.”


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