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Panthers and Blackhawks duel in overtime
J. C. Tilton

Under threatening skies the South Panthers and Mississinawa Valley Blackhawks battled for 4 quarters and then went to overtime to decide the game. There was a short cloudburst before the game and nearby Arcanum had a lightening delay. But during the game itself the dark clouds stayed in the distance. But there was plenty of thunder and lightening on the field as both offenses scored often. The Blackhawk running backs were elusive and had several large gains. Meanwhile South would establish a Woody Hayes ball possession type of attack, working the clock and keeping the potent Blackhawk offense off the field.

The Panther offense knew that they had a long night in front of them when from the first play from scrimmage Nathan Brunk went around the end and kept going 65 yards for a touchdown. They missed the PAT, which would a reoccurring theme for both teams for the night. South soon answered - a Maleksi kickoff return to midfield gave the team a short field. They marched the ball smartly down the field and Maleski finished what he had started with a 4 yard TD carry. South connected on the PAT and lead 7-6.

The Blackhawks next possession quickly fizzled. A wind favored Koeller kick ended up in the endzone and the Blackhawks started from their own 20. Later a delay of game penalty put them in long yardage. Then disaster struck when South's Bryan Dalton recovered a fumble at the 6 yard line. South quickly capitalized when Joe Maleski scored on a 3 yard carry and put South on top 14-6.

In the second quarter, South threatened again, moving the ball to the Blackhawk 33, but the Blackhawks sacked Josh Flynn and forced a punt. Nathan Brunk set up the next TD with a 60 yard carry on first down to the TVS 27. A few plays later and he scored, the Blackhawks went for two and tied the ball game 14 all. South again methodically moved the ball down field. And after Maleski had a 17 yard carry to the Blackhawk 7, a few plays later JT Stone bulled his way to the endzone to put South back on top. The PAT was blocked and South lead 20-14 at the half.

The Blackhawks had the only score of the third quarter. A team that passes sparingly, they threw a screen pass on third on long to Brunk that was successful and moved the ball all the way to the TVS 28. They were able to punch the ball in, however their bid for a 2 point PAT failed and the game was knotted once again at 20 all. Early in the 4th quarter, South dodged a bullet. After a fumble stopped a South drive, the Blackhawks moved the ball to the South 33. But the South defense held firm on 4th and 5 and South got the ball back on downs. Now South drove the ball down the field and had their own 4th and 5 on the 20 yard line. Josh Flynn ran a quarterback keeper and got all the way to the 8 yard line. JT Stone ran the ball in for the TD, but the PAT was missed.

There was 7:52 left in the game, plenty of time for the quick scoring Blackhawk offense. They moved the ball to midfield where back to back South penalties gave them a free first down. But the Blackhawks had a hiccup of their own and followed with an illegal procedure to put them in 1st and 15. After a Josh Flynn tackle in the backfield, the Blackhawks drive appeared to be stalled. But coach Graher reached deep into his playbook and pulled out the hook and ladder play. This worked and placed them on the Panther 34. The clock chewing drive continued and they scored with 19.5 seconds on the clock. They tried to run the PAT in, but the Panther defense rose to the occasion - denying the attempt and the score was tied 26-26.

The Blackhawks won the overtime coin toss and were able to score handily on their possession. Since the previous two run PAT attempts failed, they elected to kick and made it. Now the Panthers had to score to have a chance. They were able to punch the ball in with a JT Stone TD carry. Now for the important PAT, go for one and tie and go to a second round of possessions, or gamble now and go for broke. Coach Cottingim went for broke and put the ballgame in the hands of his offense. After a time out to set up the play, the team ran a quarterback keeper to perfection and Josh Flynn ran in untouched, scoring the final two points of the ball game to give South a 34-33 victory.

Coach Cottingim remarked that he was pleased to get the victory. “It puts the team at 3-0 and we are happy about that. But we know that we have a lot of work to do. We are giving up too much yardage and too many points.” He was next asked about the final 2 point try, “We were having trouble stopping their offense and a penalty or a mistake and we could lose the ball in an extra overtime. So we decided to put the ball in the hands of our senior quarterback. We had confidence that we could gain the three yards, and with good blocking he made the conversion.” On the Blackhawk offense, “The wing T has been tough for us to defend. It was very deceiving with good fakes. We had trouble getting off blocks and tackling.”

Offensively JT Stone had 18 carries for 96 yards, 2TD's; Joe Maleski had 24 carries for 139 yards, 2 TD's; Josh Flynn 19 carries for 80 yards. 2-5 passing for 18 yards. Both JT Stone and Bryan Dalton stood out on defense. Comments:

email: Chris Tilton
email: Chris Tilton



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