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September 16, 2008 4:00 am

2nd half thwarts PHS football against Buffalo

Written by Tribune Staff

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Powell High School running back Billy Harshman (left) fights for yardage after losing his helmet during Friday's matchup with the top-ranked Buffalo Bison. David Carkhuff/Buffalo Bulletin

Second half sinks Panthers' upset bid

An upset bid by the Powell High School Panthers came to a screeching halt during the second half of their road matchup with the top-ranked, Class 4A Buffalo Bison Friday evening.


The third-ranked Panthers, leading 7-0 at halftime, were outscored 14-0 in the second half in a game that PHS head coach Jim Stringer described as a tale of two halves.

“In the first half, we were able to get the lead and we were playing pretty well,” Stringer said. “In the second half, it was their show. It was like two totally different ballgames.”

As an example of the difference between the first and second halves, Stringer pointed to a number of key statistics. The Panthers (1-1), after picking up 109 rushing yards in the first two quarters against the stubborn Bison defense, managed a mere 12 yards on the ground in the third and fourth quarters combined. On the flip side, Buffalo (2-0), which was held to 81 yards rushing in the first half, ended the game with 244 yards on the ground. Part of Buffalo's turnaround in the second half was attributed to their decision to use a dive option instead of the speed option they used in the first half.

“That hurt us, and their size and the physical nature of the game may have worn us down some,” Stringer said.

Despite coming out on the short end of the score, the Panthers played well, according to their coach.

“I'm proud of our guys,” Stringer said. “They went on the road, played the No. 1 team, and gave it a good effort.”

PHS established its 7-0 lead following a Buffalo fumble at the midway point of the second quarter. The Panthers, following the Bison miscue, took over at PHS 43 and promptly got a pair of 13-yard gains on the ground from quarterback Galen Mills and slot back Trevor Donarski. Mills then added a nine-yard run, and Cody Kalberer picked up a first down at the Bison 20-yard line with a two-yard gain. Mills followed with a four-yard rush, and on a second-and-six situation, Mills went to the air and found Ryan Brandt for a 16-yard scoring strike. Drayson Bratt's PAT capped the six-play, 53-yard scoring march.

Just before halftime, the Bison were able to halt a PHS drive at the Panther 38. Powell punted, and the Bison got a 22-yard return. That set up Buffalo at midfield with just more than a minute left before the half. Buffalo, facing a fourth-and-seven situation at the PHS 27 with 15 seconds showing on the clock, got a 26-yard completion from quarterback Tyler Gibbs, but time expired before Buffalo could run another play. Buffalo, though turned away on that drive, made sure their next possession counted. The Bison opened the second half with a 74-yard scoring drive that ended with Gibbs connecting with Cameron Ostrom for a short touchdown pass. With the extra point, the score stood at 7-7 at the 8:21 mark in the third quarter.

Later in the third, the Bison recovered a PHS fumble at the Buffalo 26 to end a potential scoring threat by the Panthers.
After gaining possession of the ball, the Bison drove for their second touchdown, which occurred at the 9:46 mark of the fourth quarter on a six-yard run by Gibbs.

The Panthers, who had just two possessions in the fourth quarter, saw their last drive end after a failed fourth-and-nine play from the Bison 34.
Overall, Powell finished the game with 121 yards rushing and 107 yards passing for 228 total yards. Mills paced the offense with 41 yards rushing on 11 carries. He also completed eight of 15 passes, which accounted for all of PHS's passing yards. He also had a touchdown pass and one interception. Donarski added 39 yards rushing on seven attempts, and Billy Harshman finished with 34 yards on eight carries. Kalberer chipped in with six yards rushing on two attempts.

The Panthers' receiving corps was led by Brandt's three catches for 41 yards and one touchdown. Donarski had two receptions for 35 yards, and Brandon Sullivan added one for 22 yards. Harshman and Matt Kifer each tallied one catch for three and six yards, respectively.
For the Bison, running back Dan Long accounted for 127 yards on 23 carries for the main portion of Buffalo's 244 yards rushing. Gibbs added 47 yards on a six-of-10 passing effort. He also was picked off one time. That interception was made by PHS's Sullivan.

Defensively, the Panthers were led by Donarski's 24 defensive points. Matt McArthur added 20 defensive points, and Auston Carter finished with 14.

• Up next: The Panthers, after opening with two games on the road, will finally get to play at home Friday, Sept. 19 when they host Riverton. That game also will serve as PHS's homecoming contest. Game time is scheduled for 7 p.m.

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