After fumbling the ball away inches shy of the goal line in the first half, Portland senior running back Brandon Boyle more than redeemed himself in the second half of a Class B South semifinal Friday against Noble at Fitzpatrick Stadium. 

Boyle ran for 109 of his 139 yards after the break and scored a pair of touchdowns, helping the top-seeded Bulldogs (10-0) pull away for a 28-6 victory and a spot in the regional final next Friday night against Marshwood. 

“I wanted to make up for that (fumble) badly,” said Boyle, who also sparked a tremendous defensive effort. “I take a lot of pride in getting the ball and I take a lot of pride in my offensive line, too.” 

On the last play of a scoreless first quarter, Portland got a jolt as senior quarterback Grant Crosby, best known for his cannon arm, made a big play with his legs. Crosby faked a handoff, broke free up the middle, then cut back left and raced down the sideline before he was finally brought down at the 4. 

Three plays into the second quarter, the Bulldogs went ahead to stay when Crosby waited for Kennedy Charles to get open in the back left corner of the end zone and hit him for a 10-yard score. Cristo Vumpa’s extra point made it 7-0. 

On Portland’s next drive, which started at the Noble 20 after a 7-yard punt, the Bulldogs appeared poised to extend their lead. But Boyle fumbled a yard shy of the end zone and the ball went across the goal line for a touchback.

Portland’s defense limited Noble star running back Anthony Prak (20 carries, 82 yards), and the Bulldogs were able to double their lead with 4:33 remaining in the first half. Crosby lofted a deep pass to Aidan DiMillo down the right sideline, and while the ball was underthrown, DiMillo was able to come back and fight off a defender for a 48-yard touchdown reception. 

“That was the first time I’ve underthrown him all year, but he still got it,” said Crosby. 

Boyle then got going in the third quarter and made it 21-0 with a 3-yard run. He ended all doubt with a 7-yard TD scamper in the fourth. 

The Knights (7-3) got on the board late, as Dylan Mulligan threw up a prayer that was grabbed in traffic by Brett Boudreau, who ran 75 yards for a score. The 2-point conversion was no good, and Portland recovered the onside kick and ran out the clock. 

“They made us work and they forced us to play simple, mistake-free football,” said Portland Coach Jason McLeod. “You can’t do too much exotic against them because they’ll make you pay for it.” 

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