Panther Offense Wakes up too Late.
J. C. Tilton
After being shut out in week 1 against the Dixie Greyhounds, South was able to put some points on the scoreboard. But it wasn't until the second half that the team was able to punch the ball into the end zone. Mississinnewa Valley was able to make hay in the first half and fend off a Panther rally for the win. But not before the Panthers made it interesting in the third quarter.
The Blackhawks kicked off to the Panther to start the game. They tried to surprise the Panthers with an onsides kick, but an alert AJ Bantz fell on the ball and gave the Panthers good field position on their own 46. As they did in the previous week, the Panthers opening possession went deep into enemy territory. But again an incomplete pass 4th down ended the drive this time on the BlackHawk 29. The Blackhawks methodically went to work and moved the ball down to the TVS 9 yard line. Here the defense made a stand and stopped the BlackHawks on 3rd and 1. They opted for a field goal and the Panthers found themselves down 3-0 after about a 19 yard kick with 1:39 left in the first quarter.
South gave the BlackHawks good field position when a pass was intercepted on South's drive and they got the ball on the South 40. Now that they had sniffed the endzone the Blackhawks wasted little time as Nathan Brunk twisted and turned 40 yards to add to the lead. The next Panther possession showed promise as Wes Bassler had a reception for a first down. But a subsequent clip and then a fumble fizzled out the drive. The BlackHawks had all the momentum and another pair of long runs gave them a 24-0 lead at the half. Things looked pretty bleak for the home town team.
In the past, the BlackHawks would have come back out in the third quarter scored another TD or two and then start emptying the bench to cruise to a win. But when the Panthers took the field in the third quarter, they were an inspired team. This time it was the BlackHawks turn to receive. In their first three plays they were smothered by the Panther defense. Now it was time for the scoreless offense to assert themselves. They started on their own 28 yard line. Cory Bassler had a timely pass reception for a first down and a Josh Flynn sneak at midfield gave the Panthers a second first down in BlackHawk territory. Josh Flynn took to the air again and connected with Wes Bassler for about a 30 yard TD pass. Scott Leedy split the uprights and it was a 24-7 game.
The Blackhawks had an illegal block on their return and they started on their own 10 yard line. Again the Panthers played smash mouth defense and the Blackhawks were forced to punt after 3 plays. The crowd started to get into the game as suddenly the momentum had swung over to the Panthers. Coach Graher took a timeout to get his Blackhawks settled down. Now it was time for the Panthers to get to work. Flynn scrambled for one first down, then ran the ball to the Blackhawk 11. Scott Leedy caught a Flynn pass on the one yard just short of a first down. Flynn tried to sneak the ball in from there, but fell short of a TD - but got the first down on the one foot line. Where the Panthers were able to score on a Josh Flynn run. Suddenly it was new ball game and South was down only 14 to 24.
But in football momentum can shift in an instant. On the ensuing kickoff, the BlackHawks ran the ball all the way back to the endzone. Now South was down by 3 scores again 30-14 on a missed extra point by the BlackHawks. South tried to regain momentum but the BlackHawk stiffened. Cory Bassler had a nice 20 yard catch to highlight the next drive, but it ended on downs. The BlackHawks were able to score two more times to end any hopes that the Panthers had of catching up. The Panthers were able to punch the ball in the endzone one last time as running back Wes Rehmert exploded thru the middle of the Black Hawk defense and took it to the house for final score of the night. The BlackHawks ran a couple of plays and the clock ran out on a 43-21 BlackHawk victory.
Although it was a defeat, the Panthers can hang their hats on the fact that the offense has come to life and the third quarter. With the exception of the breakdown on the BlackHawk return for a touch down. They played a superior offensive and defensive third quarter than the BlackHawks. String together another 3 quarters like that and you have team that can do some damage.