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Football: Porterville offense flies high in win

Football: Porterville offense flies high in win

Porterville has scored 102 points through their first two games of the season

By Jermaine Johnson II  @Jerm_10

PORTERVILLE – The Panther offense has been playing a high level to start the season. Last week, they scored 49 points in a win against Dinuba. They outscored the Emperors 28-7 in the second half to overcome a two-touchdown deficit at halftime. This week, there was no comeback needed as they carried that momentum into a rivalry matchup against Granite Hills. 

The Panthers opened the game with the ball, and marched right down the field to score for an opening touchdown. With the ball in the red zone, sophomore Isaiah Ellis pounded it in for the score. The Panthers were feeling so good that they decided to open up the playbook on the ensuing conversion. They ran a fake field goal that resulted in two points. 

After a punt by Granite Hills, Porterville had the ball at midfield. Quarterback Hector Nava threw it deep right to Jovanie Tapia-Cardenas running step for step into the end zone with Granite Hills corner back Max Jimenez. The two leapt in the air while Tapia-Cardenas snatched the ball and came down with what was initially called a touchdown. Another referee ran in and waved it off since Jimenez got in there to pry the ball out at the last second. Jimenez made plays on both sides of the ball for his team, scoring their lone touchdown a few possessions later.

A coverage sack on fourth down allowed the Grizzlies to takeover at midfield. They got into the red zone and then missed a field goal. This was a big turning point in the game as Granite Hills couldn’t cut into the eight-point deficit, and then struggled to get back into the red zone. 

The Panther defense showed up with some motivation after giving up 42 points last week. They only allowed seven tonight and forced several punts and multiple interceptions. After the Grizzlies missed the field goal, the Panthers marched the length of the field then got another touchdown run by Ellis. On the next possession, Porterville sophomore Lisandro Martinez got the first takeover of the game with an interception. The Panther defense had three interceptions on the night. That first interception set up a touchdown pass from Nava to senior Javier Benevidez, who was streaking down the field along the left hash, to push the score to 22-0. 

The game was slowly getting away from Granite Hills. They responded immediately with a deep 81-yard touchdown pass to Jimenez. He finished with six receptions for over 100 yards and one touchdown. The Panthers, unfazed, responded with a long touchdown of their own. Once again, Isaiah Ellis asserting his dominance over this game. Porterville had the ball just shy of midfield before Ellis ran through the middle of the defense, avoiding several tackles on his way to the end zone. He ended with over 100 rushing yards on seven carries and two touchdowns. Porterville head coach Michael Machado says that Ellis has the potential to keep getting better as he is only a sophomore. “It’s fun to watch guys like that mature. He’s a player that can really take a game over,” said Machado. 

The score was 29-7 and it was all Porterville from there. Their offense moved the ball with ease scoring 43 first half points, including a 70-yard touchdown off a bubble screen by Benevidez to close out the second quarter. The lopsided score resulted in a quick second half with a running clock. The Grizzlies opened the half with the ball, but got their punt blocked after a 3 and out. Two plays later, senior Jayson Thao ran in a touchdown for the Panthers, increasing their lead to 50-7. Their final points of the game came on a field goal, after a second interception by Martinez late in the third quarter.

Porterville head coach Michael Machado believes that their junior quarterback, Nava, is much more comfortable after getting a full season under his belt last year. “He’s not making the sophomore mistakes he made last year” he said. “He protects the ball, and isn’t throwing into nasty coverage.” 

After graduating their top pass catchers from last season, Nava says it took some time getting used to the new group of receivers. They put the work in during the offseason, and it has paid off through the first two games. Nava has thrown for over 700 yards, seven touchdowns and no interceptions. His favorite target has been Benevidez as they have connected 11 times for nearly 300 yards and three scores. 

The Panthers now have two weeks to prepare for their next game against the Hanford Bullpups on Friday, Sept. 13. They have won this matchup two years in a row by a combination of five points, with both games coming down to the final possession. Coach Machado is expecting this year’s matchup to be just as close. He is confident his team will do well if they have a good start and then stay consistent throughout the game.  

After a 1-1 start, the Granite Hills Grizzlies will continue their season on Friday, Sept. 6 against the Orosi Cardinals. 

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