Merrillville wins in shootout against Portage
By Dave Melton Post-Tribune correspondent September 7, 2012 11:52PM
Updated: October 9, 2012 3:07PM
PORTAGE — As the visiting team, Merrillville called “heads” or “tails” on the coin flip. They should’ve called: “Last one to score, wins.”
Ultimately, it was a 74-yard run by the Pirates’ Dylon Collins with 5:22 remaining that provided the deciding points in Merrillville’s 42-38 win over DAC rival Portage (1-3, 0-2 DAC) at the Warpath.
“Any time you get a win in our conference, you breathe a sigh of relief,” said Merrillville (3-1, 2-0 DAC) head coach Zac Wells. “When it’s back-and-forth like it was today, it’s an even bigger one.”
Portage took a 17-14 lead into the half thanks to a touchdown in the final seconds of the second quarter. After initially lining up for a field goal, Portage converted a fourth-and-10 with a 16-yard touchdown pass from Gage Pearman to Rashaan Coleman.
Then, the track meet started in the second half.
Portage scored first on a 10-yard run by Coleman, putting the Indians ahead 24-14. Merrillville responded with a pair of scores to jump in front 28-24. The teams then alternated the next four touchdowns, with Collins’ tally capping the scoring.
“It was a very competitive game,” said Merrillville QB Jake Raspopovich, who finished with 146 yards rushing and 140 yards passing. “We had some things go wrong in the first half, but we just put it all together in the second half.”
The Indians’ offense wasn’t done yet, as Portage opened their next drive with a 36-yard run by Coleman. But four plays later, on fourth-and-10, Coleman was tackled inches short of a first down with 4:22 left, turning the ball over to Merrillville.
Pirates running back Bryant Isabell then picked up 40 yards on his next five carries, running out the remaining time on the clock.
In a losing effort, Coleman put together an incredible night for Portage. The senior running back racked up 202 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries, 80 receiving yards and a touchdown on three catches and even added an interception on defense.