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Panthers blanked in rivalry game versus White House

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Josh Fadely carries the rock for the Panthers in the first quarter. PHOTOS BY RANDY DIXON.
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Kobe Dutcher returns an interception for the Panther defense just before the first half ended.
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PORTLAND - The Portland Panthers showed great fight Friday night, but it was not enough, as they fell to rival White House in a defensive battle, 6-0.

The 6-0 win goes down as the lowest scoring game in the series history.

The Panther defense rose to the occasion all night long, forcing three Blue Devil turnovers and two turnover-on-downs, but it was the offense that struggled to put the ball in the end zone.

All three defensive interceptions came at crucial times for the purple and white.

Bryce Dowlen secured the Panthers first interception of the night on the Blue Devils first possession. Midway through the first quarter, facing third down the Panther rush forced a high throw where Dowlen made the play at the Panther 2 yard line, ending the Blue Devil scoring threat.

Cody Whitfield ended the Blue Devils scoring drive when he intercepted a pass to give his offense possession inside their own 25 in the second quarter. Kobe Dutcher ended the half with an interception, returning the ball 45 yards before being tackled out of bounds.

"Records don't mean anything when you come into this game," White House head coach Jeff Porter said following the win. "We knew Portland would give great effort tonight and we knew we had to play with great effort in order to give us a chance. Our kids did that, we moved the football, but couldn't get in the end zone. I think one thing that worked to our advantage tonight was creating a long field to work with all night."

White House scored the game's only touchdown to start the second quarter after a long punt return by Seth Bumbalough gave the Blue Devils excellent field position at the opposition's 4-yard line. Needing just one play, White House tossed left to Carter Hunt for a touchdown just seconds into the second quarter.

The win for the Blue Devils marks their 25th in series history and their sixth-consecutive win to start the season. The loss drops Portland to 2-5 overall and 2-2 in Region 5-4A play.

"Our defense has played well all year and they did that again tonight," Portland head coach Greg Cavanah said after the game. "We just ask them to give us a chance at the end of ball games and they did that again tonight."

The Panthers did not turn the football over against White House, but inefficiency at critical times really cost the purple and white against their heated rival.

"We made some mistakes early, we made some mistakes when moved the football," Cavanah said. "We are going to shore that up, help our defense get off the field more and move the ball and score some points."

Offensively, the night was not very pretty for the Panthers. On their eight possessions, six ended in punts and the other two ended in turnovers-on-downs. Halfway through the fourth quarter, starting quarterback Caleb Mandrell exited the game due to injury causing former starter, Brandon Meador to enter the ball game for the first time since his car accident earlier in the season.

"I've been scared all year to put him back in, but he took some hits this week from our defense and hopped right back up and played," Cavanah said. "Brandon is a winner, he is a winner at heart, doesn't show that way on our record, but he is a winner at heart. He leads the team best he can with what he has and he will continue to do that. Whoever is in at quarterback, they will try and get done what we ask them to do."

Up next for the Panthers will be homecoming on Oct. 6 when they welcome in Macon County. The Blue Devils will be in action for Thursday night football at White House Heritage.

"That's what makes coaching at Portland easy," Cavanah said. "The kids always come back with a desire to get better and work to win next week. They will do that. They are purple to the core."

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