Powell (2-0) scored at least seven touchdowns for the third-straight game and has outscored its opponents by a total of 147-12 (including a week 0 win against Miles City).
The Panthers beat the Bison with their most balanced offensive performance so far this year. Three scores came on the ground, three through the air and one via a fumble return by linebacker Carter Baxter.
The ground game opened things up for the pass.
Junior Ty Herd, who head coach Jim Stringer said is still not 100 percent after sustaining a leg injury last week against Riverton, gained 129 yards and scored two touchdowns on 10 carries while senior Cory Heny had 85 yards and touchdown of his own on 13 carries.
“I really like the fact that you can have both of them in the backfield and at any given time one of them’s going to pop something big,” Stringer said of his tailbacks.
Herd’s touchdown runs bookended the scoring for Powell. A 47-yard score in the first quarter put the Panthers up 6-0 and a 27-yard run in the opening minutes of the fourth made it 45-0 and prompted Stringer to rest his starters for the remainder of the game.
Herd was “the beneficiary of a couple really well-blocked trap plays” that left the running back untouched until 10 yards downfield, Stringer said.
Powell’s rushing attack set things up for the play-action pass and a 38-yard first-quarter touchdown catch by junior Kalei Smith from Hayden Cragoe.
The senior quarterback was 10-for-17 for 187 yards and three scores. He also threw his first interception of the season, but for the most part looked very comfortable.
“Hayden was throwing the ball really well Friday night,” Stringer said.
Junior Ryan Ferro caught a 52-yard pass out of play action that nearly went for another score. Ferro was split wide and beat his defender by three steps but had to break stride to catch Cragoe’s pass and was caught from behind.
Stringer said Powell’s success on the ground made it easy to get the Buffalo defense to bite on the fake handoff.
“We had the defensive end so discombobulated he chased the tailback into the line of scrimmage,” Stringer said.
Ferro would score on a 17-yard pass five plays later and the Panthers led 20-0.
Heny’s 3-yard touchdown run gave the Panthers a 26-0 halftime lead and Cragoe opened the second-half scoring with a 15-yard touchdown to Brendon Phister.
Powell was getting points from a variety of players in a variety of ways. Even one of Powell’s punts led to points.
With the Buffalo offense pinned deep in its own territory senior Garrett Lynch stood up a Bison ballcarrier and called for his teammates to go for the strip.
Baxter obliged, ripping the ball loose and carrying it 9 yards into the end zone to put Powell ahead 38-0.
Lynch sacked Buffalo quarterback James Musselman three times Friday night.
Buffalo finally got on the board in the fourth quarter when a Musselman pass bounced off one unsuspecting receiver’s back into the hands of another, who ran the final few yards for the score.
The Panthers were playing primarily junior varsity personnel at that point as a way to rest their starters and give more game-experience to younger players.
Stringer said getting JV players varsity playing time will make them more comfortable if “heaven forbid” Powell sustains any serious injuries and needs to call on a JV player to fill a void.
The Panthers’ offense ran a newly installed three-receiver set, a more traditional passing formation than what they used in their first two games. Stringer said only about 75 to 80 percent of the offense has been used.
“Every week we try to throw something a little bit different out there,” he said. “Now we’re at a little bit of a standstill, kind of waiting to see what we want to put in next and whether we want to tip our (hand) to (future opponents).”
The kicking game was the only way the Panthers struggled to score. Powell failed to convert on all of its four point-after kicks in the second and third quarters.
“That’s certainly going to be a point of emphasis,” Stringer said.
One point after attempt was blocked when a Buffalo defender pushed a Panther lineman into the backfield and was able to get his hand up to deflect the ball.
“We shouldn’t be moving backwards at the line of scrimmage on PAT blocks,” Stringer said.
Powell will be moving across the state this week on its way to Torrington for one last non-conference game before beginning its 3A West schedule.
The Panthers sit alone atop the 3A West standings as the last undefeated team after No. 3 Cody lost 35-9 to Douglas and Green River lost 41-20 to Riverton.