Bears special teams and defense down Mustangs

PORTAGE -- The Bears success this season has mostly been thanks to the St. Joe offense.  In the Bears game at Portage Central, it was the special teams that put another in the win column.

The St. Joe special teams accounted for two field goals, an extra point and a blocked extra point as St. Joe came back from deficits of 6-0 and 12-6 for the 13-12 win over the host Mustangs

Portage Central scored on their opening drive to take the early lead on a 27-yard touchdown run from Andrew Dinges.  The PAT was no good, but the Mustangs had a 6-0 early in the game. 

St. Joe turned the ball over on the next drive, but the defense stepped up and put a stop to the ensuing drive by forcing a turnover on downs. 

St. Joe then took over late in the first quarter, starting a 13-play drive that ended on a 33-yard field goal by Max Taylor, cutting the Mustangs lead to 6-3.

Another 3 and out by Portage Central gave the Bears the ball at midfield.  St. Joe would drive to the 17 yard line, but a penalty on 4th and 2, pushed the ball back to the 22 and forcing another field goal attempt by Taylor,  His 39 yard attempt was good and the Bears tied the game at 6-6.

Central turned the ball over on downs and St. Joe would drive into Mustangs territory.  But again the Bears were forced to try for another field goal by Taylor, this one was wide and the score remained tied at 6-6 heading into halftime.

Both defenses held firm in the third quarter, it was only after a shanked punt by Taylor set up Portage Central with a short field, which they took advantage of, by scoring on a 2-yard touchdown run by Tomas Layne, on the point after,  St. Joe’s Hunter Lange came off the edge untouched and blocked the conversion attempt, but Portage Central had a 12-6 lead still in the third quarter. 

On the Bears next drive, St. Joe faced a 4th and 1 at their own 32 yard line.  Joron Brown got the handoff from QB Matt Lanier, and not only did he convert for the first down, but he also got the touchdown.  Brown ran through the Mustangs defensive line, though the secondary and danced around the safeties for a 68-yard touchdown.   Max Taylor converted on the PAT and St. Joe had a 13-12 lead late in the third quarter.

Midway through the final quarter, St. Joe was driving deep into Mustangs territory looking to put the game out of reach, but St. Joe turned the ball over on downs at the PC 16-yard line.  Giving the home team one final chance with 2:40 left in the game.
Joron Brown, who tied the game, then sealed the victory when he intercepted Portage Central desperation pass at the St. Joe 44-yard line.  St. Joe was able to kill the final 1:37 and earned the win.

On the night, St. Joe outgained the Mustangs 250-150 in total yardage.  Joron Brown finished the night with 15 carries for 138-yards and one touchdown.  Elijah turner led the Bears defensive effort with 10 tackles, including an 11 yard sack.   Portage Central falls to 2-3 and 2-1 in the SMAC, while St. Joe improves to 4-1 and 3-0 in the conference.  St. Joe is tied with Battle Creek Central with identical 4-1 overall records and 3-0 in SMAC play.

St. Joe returns home on Friday night to celebrate homecoming to face Portage Northern (3-2, 2-1) at Steve Upton Field at Dickinson Stadium.  Kickoff is at 7:00 p.m.