Greg Cavanah talks to his team post game. FILE 

PORTLAND- In a rivalry that has seen many great matchups, Portland and White House added another chapter on Friday night as the Panthers pulled out a 41-29 win over their rival.

The win gives Portland three wins in the tightly contested region 5-4A and gives the Panthers wins in four of their last five meetings with White House.

“It’s a lively contest,” Portland coach Greg Cavanah said. “A lot was on the line tonight. Two losses in our region is not good for anybody. Our kids knew the importance of the game.”

The Panthers needed just three plays to take an early lead as a reception from Kaleb Allen and run from Dylan Gulley set up a Caleb Mandrell touchdown on just the third play of the game.

Portland (4-3, 3-1) added to their lead early in the second quarter thanks to a fake punt where Mandrell connected with Darius Bell for a 35-yard gain to set them up at the three-yard-line. Mandrell would run it in from there for a 14-0 lead.

“We got down on that end and we took a chance,” Cavanah said of the fake punt. “We’ll take a chance to get to the next level where we want to be and our kids did a great job of performing that.”

After a Blue Devil punt, White House (3-3, 0-2) recovered a Panther fumble at the five-yard-line to set up Ranen Blackburn for the score.

The two sides traded scores at the end of the half, as the Panthers went into the half leading 20-14.

On the opening drive of the second half, Jovie Lugo picked off a Caleb Anderson pass and return it to the 15-yard-line, setting up a 9-yard Cade Box score and a 28-14 lead for the Panthers. 

Following a 3-and-out from White House, Box took the ensuing punt 75 yards for the commanding 35-14 lead. After Blackburn’s second score, Mandrell added his fourth touchdown on the Panthers’ next drive to push the lead to 41-21. 

White House scored once more before the end of the third quarter, but that would be as close as they could get as Portland closed out the 41-29 homecoming win.

After tough losses the last two weeks, Cavanah was pleased to see his team finish out the game this week.

“Staying in the ballgame and finishing the game was huge for us. The kids finished the game out and played well.”

White House travels to another region rival in White House Heritage next week, looking to get back on track. Portland will play host to Trousdale County in their final non-region game of the season.

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