Malden tops Portageville in battle of previously winless football teams
Brad Hurt ~ Daily American Republic
MALDEN -- Somebody had to come out of Friday's game between Malden and Portageville with their first win of the season and with a large Homecoming crowd anxious for a reason to celebrate, the Green Wave delivered, 27-0.
"Tonight you saw two 0-3 teams fighting for a first win, and it was a tough fight," Malden coach Gary Blaylock said. "We'd make a mistake, then they'd make a mistake. That's how hard it is to win, but we stepped up."
The star of the show for Malden wore No. 28 as senior Dealmour Moncrief rushed for 99 yards in the first quarter alone, adding a third quarter carry for a total of 103.
Moncrief also had help on the ground as the Green Wave spread the carries around. Six other players ran the ball for Malden, with senior Ryan Cain tallying 46 yards for the second highest individual total.
The win featured offensive execution that the Green Wave had not managed to find in its previous three games, in which Malden had been outscored 89-20.
The Green Wave came out running from the start, pounding away at the Bulldog defense and chewing up the game clock with a 93-yard scoring drive that used 7 minutes of clock.
"It was big for us to get that zero off the scoreboard," Blaylock said.
Moncrief got nine touches on the drive, including the score from 6 yards that put the Green Wave on top 6-0 with 4:56 remaining in the quarter.
Portageville also showed a dedication to the running game on its opening drive, although not with the success the Green Wave enjoyed.
The Bulldogs' luck seemed destined to change when a punt touched a Malden player on the bounce and was recovered by Portageville's Brandon Dennison with 9:12 remaining in the first half.
Instead of leading to a touchdown and a possible momentum shift, the possession resulted in another punt.
The Bulldogs missed out on another chance to score when Malden's Tim Gage intercepted a Caden Robbins pass with 1:24 left in the half and set up his own offense with great field position at the Bulldog 39.
Gage then found Cody Collins for an 11-yard completion and Kaleb Loughary later came up with an 11-yard scramble on fourth down to keep the drive alive. On first and goal from the 8, Gage found Andy Matthews for the score. After a two-point run by Cain, the Green Wave went into the locker room with a 14-0 lead.
"Tim is a defensive player and he saved at least two touchdowns with his play on defense. That's what a senior does," Blaylock said.
Blaylock said the week of practice leading up to Friday's game dealt less with the team's play on the field than with the players' focus and field awareness.
"We worked their brains this week," he said. "Earlier in the season if we told them to run through a wall, they'd run through a wall. They just wouldn't know which one."
Malden held only a 14-second advantage in time of possession but outgained Portageville 262-106.
Penalties haunted the Bulldogs on their opening drive of the second half as consecutive false starts turned a manageable fourth-and-3 into fourth-and-13.