By: Ross Laorenza
The Portsmouth Clippers topped D-II rival St. Thomas Aquinas 49-28 Friday night. It took a total team effort coming back from a 14 point deficit at the end of the first quarter. It was Saints’ captain Jake Geppert who had the two quick scores to give St. Thomas the lead after one.
Donovan Phanor started to lead his team back in the second quarter with his legs and his arm. On first and ten from the 42 yard line, Phanor connected with Ian MacDonald for a 13 yard pitch and catch. He picked up gains of 11 and 12 yards on the next two plays getting the Clippers inside the five. Two plays later, Spencer Griggs took the ball in for a 3-yard touchdown. The PAT was no good. Portsmouth trails 14-6.
After a St. Thomas three and out it was Phanor again who began to lead his team down the field. Aided by the power running of Mikel Toar, the Clippers drove the ball 84 yards in 11 plays. Facing a third and fourteen Donovan Phanor completed a 20-yard pass to Jake Becker for a touchdown. Portsmouth converted the 2-point conversion and we are all tied at 14 apiece.
The Clippers defense played well after giving up the initial 14 points. Joey Auger intercepted a Trevor Martin pass turning the ball back over to the Clippers with just over two minutes to play in the half. Portsmouth would take advantage. Phanor connected again with Becker, this time for a 47 yard catch and run for the touchdown. Isabelle Pafford knocked through the extra point to give the Clippers a seven point lead. With 1:38 remaining in the half Portsmouth leads 21-14.
They would get the ball back again with just under a minute to play in the half. Nate McFarland gave his team excellent field position returning the St. Thomas punt to the 44 yard line. Phanor made two completions, one for 27 yards, to bring his team inside the five. For the third time on the night it was Phanor to Becker, this time for a 3-yard touchdown to cap an amazing second quarter. PAT was good again off the foot of Pafford. At the end of the half
Portsmouth: 28, St. Thomas Aquinas: 14.
St. Thomas missed three long field goals on the night. Two of them came in the third quarter. After the second miss the Clippers took over at their 20 yard line. It was time for Donovan Phanor to show off his impressive speed and agility. Facing a third and seven, Phanor rolled left and then took off down the sideline. It appeared he would be taken out of bounds, but with an impressive juke move he left the defender in the dust and scorched down the field for a 77 yard touchdown run. I haven’t seen a quarterback move so well this season.
As the game progressed it was clear Portsmouth would not relinquish their lead, but St. Thomas didn’t go quietly. After a 15 yard rushing score by Joey Auger put the Clippers up 42-14, the Saints offense responded with a scoring drive of their own.
Trevor Martin connected on a 19 yard strike to Liam Middleton scoring the Saints first points since the first quarter. After a failed two point conversion St. Thomas trailed 42-20.
Joey Auger delivered the final knockout blow with an 84 yard rushing touchdown right up the middle for the Clippers seventh score of the night.
Ryan Bennett would add a 51 yarder for the Saints, but it was too little too late. Final score Portsmouth: 49, St. Thomas Aquinas: 28.