PORTSMOUTH — The local high school football season officially began Thursday night when Portsmouth defeated Tiverton 22-0 in the annual Injury Fund half-game at Portsmouth High School.
The Division-One Patriots scored touchdowns on their first two offensive possessions and again on their fourth and final possession. The Division-Three Tigers started slow before settling in and improving their play as the game progressed.
“There were some things we did pretty well and there were some things we didn’t do too well,” said Tiverton coach Bob Murray. “We’ll go back and we’ll try to refine it.”
Despite winning the 24-minute contest Portsmouth coach Ryan Moniz still thought there was plenty of work to do for the Patriots.
“It was good to come out in a game setting and see how we can do, what we need to improve on,” Moniz said. “We need to do a better job of sustaining blocks and getting off the ball with a punch, getting downfield and start playing with a little bit more of a physical mindset, a little more of an attitude.”
Tiverton was no match for Portsmouth early on as the Pats took the opening kickoff and drove 56 yards in six plays. Quarterback Bobby Chavous dropped back to pass but instead tucked the ball and ran 17 yards for the touchdown to end the drive. Matt Greenman corralled a two-point conversion pass from Chavous for an 8-0 lead.
Tiverton started its initial series at its own 26 and lost 12 yards in three plays, including a 10-yard sack of quarterback Andrew Murray by Jake Fletcher. Tiverton punted but Portsmouth gained possession at the Tigers’ 25. Two plays later Greenman took a quick pass from Chavous and raced 21 yards to paydirt for a 14-0 Portsmouth lead.
“They went fast and we went slow,” coach Murray said. “(Portsmouth’s) a good football team. They’re athletic, very, very athletic. They’re much more athletic than us. Their speed, that kid (Greenman) who I’ve been impressed with all summer long is outstanding.”
The next time Tiverton got the ball it picked up a pair of first downs, one on a Matt DeLeo 10-yard scamper and another on a five-yard burst by Josh Pereira. Murray also connected with Evan Nelson for a 19-yard gain as the Tigers moved to the Portsmouth 21 before surrendering the ball on downs.
“Once the initial onslaught took place I think we established our offense a little bit better,” said Murray. “I thought we moved the ball. I thought we ran the ball pretty well. I thought the option moved fairly well.”
Tiverton’s defense stepped up the next time Portsmouth had the ball and forced Greenman to fumble after he had taken a Chavous pass for an 18-yard gain.
“Defensively, once we got punched in the mouth a little bit, I thought they settled down a little bit. There was some discombobulation but that’s all right,” Murray said.
The Tigers took over at the Portsmouth 37 and DeLeo immediately ripped off a 16-yard pick-up. After the Pats stuffed Dylan Simmons for no gain, Murray completed a slant pass to Pereira for another 16-yard surge which set the ball at the five. Simmons earned a yard and the Pats were whistled for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, the fourth of seven penalties against Portsmouth, which pushed the ball to the one-yard line.
But that was the Tigers’ closest sniff of the end zone. A pair of Tiverton penalties helped stall the drive which ended with Luke Medeiros’s six-yard sack of Murray.
Portsmouth kept the ball on the ground nine consecutive plays during the ensuing series and advanced from its own 15-yard line to the Tiverton 41. Running back Austin Szczepaniak carried the ball five times and gained 40 of his 90 total rushing yards on the drive. But after two more holding penalties and faced third-and-17 call, the Pats went to the air.
Chavous dropped back and saw Greenman just about to break free deep in the Tiverton secondary. Chavous lofted a pretty pass which Greenman ran under and snagged with one hand. A couple strides later Greenman was in the end zone.
“He threw a perfect pass on that ball,” Murray said.
Chavous then passed to Greenman for the conversion and a 22-0 lead.
“We threw the ball pretty well,” Moniz said. “And the line protected pretty well too.”
Tiverton got the ball one last time and, after an eight-yard run from DeLeo, Hatcher negated the yardage with his second sack of Murray. Undeterred Tiverton moved the ball through the air before time ran out.
Murray hit DeLeo for a 10-yard gain and Pereira for a 11-yard pickup. Portsmouth was whistled for a roughing the passer penalty on the Pereira catch and finished with seven penalties for 63 yards.
“We had a bunch of penalties. They’re big drive-momentum breakers,” Moniz said. “That can’t be a part of our game. I think we’ll be pretty good but I don’t think we’ll be good enough to overcome that many penalties.”
Each quarterback was 4-for-4 passing with Chavous compiling 95 passing yards, 80 of them to Greenman, and Murray finishing with 56 passing yards. DeLeo had 41 rushing yards on seven carries.
Both teams have non-league games this upcoming weekend with Portsmouth hosting Rogers in a 7 p.m. clash Friday, Sept. 14, while Tiverton travels to Providence the following day for a 1:30 p.m. contest at Hope
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