Bears down Huskies with defense and Haynes

(Portage) – Over the past decade, St. Joe and Portage Northern games have become down to the final wire battles.   The 2017 version was no exception.

The Bears pulled out a 20-15 win over Portage Northern in St. Joe’s penultimate game at McCamley Field in Portage.

St. Joe opened the scoring late in the first quarter when Ryan Barlow threw a 5 yard touchdown pass to Izak Ruddel in the corner of the endzone.  The Bears scoring drive was 63 yards, 58 of which came on the legs of running back Ryan Haynes, including a 50 yard run on the first play of the drive.  Antonio Buhrfiend’s point after kick made the score 7-0.

Northern would cut into the Bears lead on their next drive, which extended into the second quarter on a 24 yard field goal to make the score 7-3.

After the ensuing kickoff went into the endzone for a touchback.  St. Joe didn’t take long to light up the scoreboard again.   Just one play in fact.  Ryan Haynes ran for an 80 yard touchdown to put St. Joe ahead 14-3.

Portage Northern would find the endzone themselves late in the second quarter, but the Bears blocked the extra point.    St. Joe would head to the half with a 14-9 lead. 

Neither team would find the endzone in the third quarter, but Northern was within inches.  Northern would drive deep down into St. Joe territory on the Huskies opening drive of the second half.  The home team had the ball first and goal at the 2 yard line.    St. Joe would hold back Portage Northern out of the endzone on four tries, St. Joe would take over at the 1, but kept the Huskies out of the endzone. 

Northern would take the lead for the first time in the game with 8:06 left in the 4th quarter.  The Huskies would try for the 2 point conversion and would fail.  But the Huskies grabbed the 15-14 lead.

St. Joe responded, a steady dose of Ryan Haynes and Ryan Barlow drove the Bears down 66 yards in 8 plays as Haynes scored on a 12 yard run and put St. Joe ahead.  The Bears would also try for two and fail.  The Bears had the lead again at 20-15.  With 4:38 to play.

With the home team having more than 4 minutes, the Bears defense was once again called on to preserve the lead, which they did.  Forcing Northern to turn the ball over on downs with 1:50 left at midfield.  St. Joe would run out the clock and walk away with the 20-15 win. 

The game was the second to last time St. Joe will play at McCamley Field in Portage.   St. Joe will return in the final week of the season to face Portage Central.

St. Joe improves to 3-0 and 1-0 in the SMAC West Division. St. Joe has now won 5 straight against Northern and improves the Bears record at McCamley Field against Northern to 16-8.  

The next time St. Joe will be at Portage Northern, it will be at Northern’s new stadium which is currently under construction.  McCamley Field is being demolished and rebuilt.

St. Joe will host Lakeshore next at Dickinson Stadium, both teams come in with a record of 3-0.