(Photo by Chris Pobst, Staff)
PORTAGEVILLE -- Their formula for winning still remains true.
Daniel Allen continues to be the definition of a workhorse, while at the same time, opening up opportunities for speedsters such as Dion Foster and Dominique Walker on the outside.
For a change of pace, they hand the ball to Denzell Simmons who'd rather run through a defense than around one.
The Portageville way continues to stack up wins, including their latest one, a 30-12 victory over Hayti Wednesday night during the Class 1, District 1 semifinal at Portageville High School.
"If people wrote a book on 'Here's What Portageville Wants To Do', tonight, we wrote it for them," Portageville head coach Jeff Bullock said. "It was a great effort by our kids."
This is Portageville's second victory over Hayti this season after winning 35-22 in Week 5.
Dominated by the run, the Bulldogs ran the ball 61 times for 335 yards. Quarterback Bryce Wallace threw the ball just five times while letting Portageville's stable of tailbacks do what they've been doing all season long.
"That's just what we do. Until a team stops it, we can't change," said Allen. "You can't fix something that ain't broke."
Allen, or 'Cali', as most of his teammates and coaches call him, led the Bulldogs with 176 rushing yards on 31 carries. The 6-0, 185-pound running back, who came to Portageville from California, also had three touchdowns including the Bulldogs' last two to give his team the separation they needed.
"When Daniel's on the field, everybody seems to watch him," said Bullock. "Daniel's our attention grabber, which makes it a little more impressive because he still gets five or six yards a carry.
"There's a lot of great backs, but we wouldn't trade that kid for anybody."
Foster and Walker ran for 56 and 51 yards, respectively, while Foster scored on a 10-yard run in the second quarter to give Portageville a 16-6 lead going into halftime.
Simmons, who features a down-hill style of running the football, added another 48 yards on 13 carries.
"People key on (Allen) every night and it allows Dion and those other guys to bust big gains," Bullock said. "Our offense is kind of like the personality of our kids. We've got a bunch of tough kids."
The Bulldogs (9-1) began the game with a dominating first series.
Allen capped a 7-play, 75-yard drive with an 8-yard touchdown run in just under three minutes. Foster broke free for a 36-yard gain to give his team good field position. Just two first downs later and Allen was crossing into pay dirt to give Portageville an 8-0 lead.
"That's what we look to do every game. It worked to perfection," Allen said.
Not letting it get out of hand early, Hayti (4-6) stormed back on their second possession when sophomore quarterback Austin Neisler found Maurion Newbill for a 52-yard touchdown pass.
Moving the ball threw the air was the most efficient way for Hayti to sustain drives. Neisler, with quick three and five-step drops found the holes in Portageville's cover defense for 149 yards on 10 of 19 passing.
The Indians rushed for 59 yards on 20 carries.
"There were different gaps he could hit in our Cover 3," Allen said. "There wasn't much we could do about it, but they found the holes and we eventually fixed it. We switched to a man instead of the zone, so we could actually be on them instead of sitting back and having them pick it apart."
Portageville was given a gift by the Indians punt return team after stalling out on their first drive of the second quarter. The punt began to roll around Hayti's 18-yard line when an Indian player touched the bouncing ball making it a live one. Portageville junior Caleb Gooch pounced on the ball giving the Bulldogs the ball back on the 11-yard line.
Two plays later, Foster rumbled in for a touchdown to put the Bulldogs ahead 16-6.
Coming out of the locker rooms to start the second half, Hayti inched closer with a 5-play drive that ended with Karnard Humes bullying his way across the goal line for a 1-yard touchdown run.
Although their 2-point conversion attempt failed, Hayti was within four points of the district's top seed with nearly a full half of football in front of them.
"Hayti's a really good football team," said Bullock. "There's a couple times where I thought we could make them go away, but to their coaches credit and kids' credit, they gutted it out and played hard."
Allen did not allow the Indians to get any closer.
The senior tailback busted through Hayti's defense for the first of his two 9-yard scoring runs just seconds before the third quarter ended.
"Our kids persevere," Bullock said. "We take people's best shots and continue to fight."
A 2-point conversion pass from Wallace to Hunter Cook gave Portageville a comfy 24-12 advantage heading into the final quarter.
"That was huge," Allen said. "We probably should have scored a few more times. We were in our red zone about three or four times, but fumbles and other things happened."
After a Hayti punt to start the fourth quarter, Allen fell into the end zone again during a 70-yard, five minute long drive ended with his second 9-yard touchdown run.
With just over five minutes remaining, Hayti ended up turning the ball over on downs trying to keep the game alive. Portageville ran out the clock during the next possession.
With this win, Portageville advances to the district championship game against the defending Class 1 champion, Valle Catholic, who defeated Thayer 44-15, Monday at Portageville High School.
"They're good, they're smart and don't make a lot of mistakes," Allen said about their eventual match-up against Valle. "We've got to do the same and not get away from what we do. It's going to be a tough game, but hopefully, we'll come out with a win."
P -- Daniel Allen 8 run (Denzell Simmons run), 9:02
H -- Austin Neisler 52 pass to Maurion Newbill (run failed), 4:08
P -- Dion Foster 10 run (Bryce Wallace run), 6:52
H -- Karnard Humes 1 run (run failed), 9:40
P -- Allen 9 run (Wallace pass to Hunter Cook), 0:07
P -- Allen 9 run (run failed), 5:08
Rushing -- Hayti, Karnard Humes 7-38, Demetrius Luster 4-11, Austin Neisler 6-4, Elijah Jones 3-6, Team 1-(-10). Portageville, Daniel Allen 31-176, Denzell Simmons 13-48, Dion Foster 7-56, Dominique Walker 6-51, Bryce Wallace 2-(-8), Landon Delisle 2-12.
Passing -- Hayti, Austin Neisler 10-19-0 149, Karnard Humes 0-1-0 0. Portageville, Bryce Wallace 2-5-0 6.
Receiving -- Hayti, Maurion Newbill 4-80, Armond Spann 1-11, Demetrius Luster 1-9, Elijah Jones 1-6, Karnard Humes 3-43. Portageville, Denzell Simmons 1-2, Dion Foster 1-4.