PORTAGEVILLE ---- The big boys up front shoved Malden out of the postseason picture and paved the way for what the Portageville football team hopes will be another deep run in the state playoffs.
With the offensive line clearing gaping holes for their wishbone attack, the Bulldogs began defense of their Class 2, District 1 title with a convincing 42-14 victory Friday night over rival Malden.
Portageville's back-by-committee of Aaron Bidewell, Antonio Scott and Kyle Ezell racked up a combined 254 yards on 41 carries and reached the end zone four times.
The Bulldogs, who suffered their first loss of the season last week to Bruceton, Tenn., advanced to the sectional round last season before losing 27-6 to Charleston.
"This game was won by our offensive line," said Bidewell, who had 17 carries for 157 yards and a pair of touchdowns. " We can't do anything without them. They push and drive, and they just decided to take over the game.
"All three of us backs try to carry the ball as hard as we can, but it's on them as far as we go in districts and the playoffs. As far as the offensive line takes us, that's how far we'll go."
The Green Wave (3-5) managed to stay within striking distance in the first half and made things interesting when tailback Jamall Kilgore broke loose for a 61-yard score on the opening play of the second half to cut the Portageville lead to seven.
The Bulldogs answered with a nine play, 68-yard scoring drive -- which included a fourth-and-8 conversion on the Malden 29-yard line -- to make it 28-12.
Known for chewing up large chunks of the clock with its ball control offense, Portageville uncharacteristically punched in two quick scores to blow the game open.
Three plays after the Bulldogs punted for the first time, Tyler Boatwright picked up a Kilgore fumble and rumbled 32 yards for a score.
Two series later, Portageville forced another fumble on its second punt. Ezell scooted in from seven yards out on the next play to give the Bulldogs a 28-point advantage.
Portageville (6-1) lost the time of possession battle by over three minutes and had just one drive that lasted more than four minutes and 10 plays.
That came on the opening possession of the game when the Bulldogs went 73 yards on 10 plays and scored on Bidewell's five-yard plunge 5:15 into the game.
Portageville's five other scores totaled a combined seven minutes, 19 seconds.
"Coach (Jim) McKay said in practice we're going to start opening it up a little bit and not just run the inside veers," Bidewell said, "but try to run the sweeps and that's pretty much what we tried to do."