Portland traveled to the Bluegrass State Friday night for their 2017 opener at Warren East high school. The Panthers put themselves in position to score but could never get over the hump, falling 21-0 to the Raiders.
The Raiders jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the first quarter when Dwayne Cook found Caleb Huskey for his first of two touchdowns on the evening. Facing a third down, Huskey worked past his man on a slant route for the early advantage.
The score remained 7-0 until the fourth quarter when Huskey and Trevor Naftel found pay dirt and sealing the victory. Huskey finished the night with 7 receptions for 245 yards, and two touchdowns while Naftel toted the rock 15 times for 123 yards and a touchdown.
The victory marks the Raiders first season opening victory since 2012 and pushes the Panthers season opening losing streak to 11 games. (2006 W at Greenwood, KY, 10-7).
"They never marched the ball on us, I thought our defense played okay minus the three long plays they had on us," Portland head coach Greg Cavanah said. "We were able to move the ball we just couldn't capitalize once we got in there."
The Panthers worked inside the Raiders red zone four times, twice inside the 10-yard line but could never find six as turnover-on-downs plus one missed field goal stalled their drives.
"We will work on those things this week and make ourselves better," Cavanah said. "We are just making too many mistakes. Once we watch the film we will see we did not do a very good job of blocking."
Cavanah has challenged his offensive line and says changes could be coming in the near future. As of now, the Panthers start Thomas Latimer, Tristan Johnson, Thomas Rodriguez, James Tice, and Cameron Mendez on the front line.
"I need those guys and that unit to play better," said Cavanah. "When we have the opportunity to score like we did last night we have to."
The Panthers bounce back next week with their first home game of 2017 playing host to Hillwood in a non-region game.
"We have to get more out of our offensive line and we have to take care of the football," said Cavanah when asked his keys to victory. "They are big, aggressive, and they will try and get leverage and get on the outside. This last week was a good learning lesson for us and I think we can build off of it."