Torrey, Gates lead Portageville past St. Vincent in Class 1 District 1 football playoffs
PERRYVILLE, Mo. -- If you make mistakes at this time of year, you don't get to play anymore.
On Friday night at St. Vincent High School, it was the host Indians that shot themselves in the foot and fifth-seeded Portageville that played a strong, composed game, as the Bulldogs took out the fourth-seeded Indians 35-14 in the first round of the MSHSAA Class 1 District 1 playoffs.
"We came out and it was just not our best night," St. Vincent coach Nathan Rowland said. "It wasn't our best effort. It's just unfortunate that in this situation it's win or go home. There were all kinds of things we hadn't done all year that just showed its head here in districts. When it's a one-and-done thing you've got to be on your game, and we were just not on our game tonight."
A lot of that had to do with Portageville (4-6), which came into the contest without an impressive record but was battle-tested by a gauntlet of regular-season opponents. The payoff seemed apparent Friday, as the Bulldogs racked up 404 yards of total offense compared to St. Vincent's 214 and won the turnover battle 5-0, scoring 21 points off takeaways to move on to the district semifinal and the dubious reward of playing defending state champion Valle Catholic.
"I know a lot of people see a 3-6 record and think, 'Eh,' but week in and week out this year we've really given good effort," Portageville coach Jeff Bullock said. "...We just lost to six good teams this year. I was counting it up today and I think they're 41-10, the six teams we lost to.
"At times it's been a lack of self discipline, and when we play with self discipline good things happen. We beat a good team tonight."
St. Vincent finishes the season at 6-4, matching its best record since 2008.
But against Portageville the Indians had no answer for dual-threat quarterback Ian Torrey or versatile wide receiver Hunter Gates. Torrey rushed 17 times for 92 yards and a score and was 17 of 28 through the air for 228 yards and three touchdowns. Gates caught five passes for 114 yards and three scores, ran five times for 62 yards and another TD and had two interceptions, including a critical third-quarter pick.
"They had a dual-threat quarterback and everyone could see he's one of the better dual-threat quarterbacks in the entire region here," Rowland said. "That's what the difference was. He was the best player on the field. Ian Torrey was the best player on the field on both offense and defense. He was wreaking havoc running the ball and throwing the ball; he was wreaking havoc in the secondary just with how quick he is, getting sideline to sideline and causing us to not be able to do some things that have made us successful in the past."
The Bulldog defense not only held the Indians to just 41 rushing yards on 26 carries, but also put a lot of pressure on St. Vincent quarterback Tyler Monier, snagging three interceptions and recovering a pair of fumbles, both of which came in the backfield.
Monier finished 14 of 24 for 173 yards, two TDs and three interceptions.
Austin Dauster caught six passes for 63 yards and a score for the home side.
Portageville never trailed in the game, but St. Vincent had an opportunity to change the tide of the game in the third quarter. Much as it did throughout the night, it missed its opportunity.
The Indians were down 28-7 at halftime after Portageville scored a pair of second-quarter touchdowns to take a three-score lead, but St. Vincent opened the second half with a three-play, 68-yard scoring drive that was capped by a 30-yard TD pass from Monier to Tyler Wibbenmeyer, cutting the deficit to 28-14 at 10:59 of the third quarter.
The St. Vincent defense then halted Portageville and forced a turnover on downs at the Indian 30-yard line, setting up a promising series as the hosts marched down the field, picking up three first downs and facing first-and-10 at the Bulldog 19. But a sack by Nicholas Allred on second down forced third-and-long for St. Vincent, and Monier's pass to Mitchell Dobbelare down field was intercepted by Gates.
"That was a pretty big swing," Rowland said. "It's 28-14, we're feeling pretty good, we just got a stop and we're driving the ball. Unfortunately we get an error in communication between the receiver and the quarterback and they were able to intercept it. That's why you play the game. Stuff happens during the game, and that's one of the moments something bad happened for us."
Instead of making it a one-possession game, the ball went the other way, and Portageville made it count. The Bulldogs converted on third-and-11 before Torrey and Gates hooked up for a 10-yard touchdown, with the receiver going up for a jump ball with defensive back Dauster, gaining dual possession and therefore the TD. The point-after made the score 35-14 with just 3 seconds left in the third quarter, putting Portageville in control.
"That was the biggest momentum swing in the whole game," Bullock said. "We've had this happen to us this year where we've had leads and kind of squandered them. It's easy for your kids to look at you and go, 'Man, Coach, what's going to go wrong now?' But instead kids step up and make plays.
"The interception was helped by the defensive line that did a great job of getting back there and putting pressure on to set that up. ... Our front seven did a great job of setting that up and whether it's Hunter or Ian or Ryan Priggel or whoever is back there, great athletes make great plays at big times. And for sure punching it in at that time was huge, because you could see the air deflate a little bit for them."
The first quarter was an evenly-matched affair, though it took only three plays for the Bulldogs to grab a lead.
Back-to-back big runs on the first two plays of the game pushed Portageville across midfield, and Gates went up over a defensive back to haul in a 42-yard TD pass on snap No. 3.
St. Vincent fired back, though. On its first series of the game it went 69 yards in six plays, capped by a 26-yard scoring connection between Monier and Dauster, as the QB rolled right and found his receiver wide open in the end zone, tying the score at 7 at 9:06 of the first quarter.
The teams traded punts for a while before St. Vincent coughed the ball up in its own half of the field and Allred recovered the fumble for the Bulldogs.
Working with a short field, Torrey got loose on second down, slipping tackles and dancing along the right sideline to go 37 yards into the end zone for a 14-7 edge at 3:26 of the first quarter.
Portageville made that 21-7 with 4:20 left in the half when Torrey found Gates form 4 yards out on fourth down to polish off a seven-play, 63-yard drive.
On the ensuing St. Vincent possession, a sack set up third-and-long and Gates stepped in front of a Monier pass and returned it 38 yards. On the next play, Gates took a handoff on a sweep and scored from 5 yards out for a 28-7 halftime edge.
"We'd much rather be 6-3 than 3-6 coming into tonight," Bullock said, "but we persevered and the kids have given great effort and refused to say, 'We're not a good football team.'"
Portageville will face top-seeded Valle Catholic in a district semifinal on Friday. The two teams faced off in the same situation in 2013, with the Warriors prevailing 42-0.
"We have the utmost respect for Coach [Judd] Naeger and the Valle kids," Bullock said. "They play the game right. They play extremely hard. They're kind of the standard. Not kind of -- they are the standard. They're what we want to be and where we want to get. The only way you get there is you get out on the field and you measure yourself against them. As long as our kids go out there and give 100 percent, there will be nothing we're ashamed of. When the clock starts at 7 o'clock on Friday night, We've got a chance to win. It's zero-zero. Let's see what happens."
St. Vincent had fallen to Valle Catholic in the semifinal each of the previous two seasons. This year the Indians won't even get a shot at the six-time defending champs.
"When we look back on the season, it's going to be a season we look back on fondly," Rowland said. "Right now it's hard to see that, but once we start evaluating everything as a whole, there were more positives than there were negatives for us. These seniors have done so much for this program, playing as sophomores until now. There's no way you can replace those guys. They will be missed but irreplaceable."
P -- Hunter Gates 42 pass from Ian Torrey (Nicholas Allred kick), 11:20
SV -- Austin Dauster 26 pass from Tyler Monier (Dauster kick), 9:06
P -- Torrey 37 run (Allred kick), 3:26
P -- Gates 4 pass from Torrey (Allred kick), 4:20
P -- Gates 5 run (Allred kick), 2:29
SV -- Tyler Wibbenmeyer 30 pass from Monier (Dauster kick), 10:59
P -- Gates 10 pass from Torrey (Allred kick) :03
RUSHING -- Portageville, Torrey 17-92, Gates 5-62, Treavis Johnson 4-15, Ryan Priggel 1-9, Samuel Young 1-0, Team 3-(-2); St. Vincent, Riley Riehn 15-39, Monier 10-3, Team 1-(-1).
PASSING -- Portageville, Torrey 28-17-228-0; St. Vincent, Monier 24-14-173-3.
RECEIVING -- Portageville, Priggel 6-61, Gates 5-114, Connor Barham 3-28, Brian Pearson 2-20, Johnson 1-5; St. Vincent, Dauster 5-63, Riehn 3-22, Tyler Unterreiner 3-19, Gabe Naeger 2-39, Wibbenmeyer 1-30.
- Photos from the game (10/21/16)