One week after watching a halftime lead slip away over the final two quarters, the fifth-ranked Panthers used an opportunistic defense and a sustained offensive effort to score a 34-6 non-conference victory over Riverton. The win avenged a quarterfinal loss suffered by the Panthers in last year’s playoffs.
After controlling the ball for the first six minutes of the second half, the Panthers, already coaxing a 13-6 halftime advantage, watched the drive stall 6 yards shy of paydirt. Following a defensive stand, Powell got the ball back near midfield for a second opportunity.
Josh Cragoe took Powell’s first play 32 yards down to the Wolverines’ 22. Three rushing plays later, Olie Olson charged across the final 7 yards to put the Panthers ahead by two scores.
Then it was time for the defense.
On Riverton’s first play of the ensuing series, Tyler Patterson scooped up a loose football and carried it across the goal line. Powell’s second touchdown in an eight-second span upped the lead to 27-6 after Cody Wichman’s point-after kick split the uprights.
The Panthers’ defense nearly scored again in the fourth quarter. As the Wolverines’ quarterback desperately threw a ball to the flat in an effort to escape a sack in the endzone, junior Cameron Bennett made a diving play on the ball that brought him down just inches shy of a touchdown.
Sophomore Garrett Lynch finished the task two plays later, giving the game its final margin.
The Panthers controlled the action for much of the first half as well. Powell’s first score came via a seven-play, 64-yard drive that featured a pair of pass receptions by Olson. The first of those carried the ball from the Wolverine 46 all the way to the 2. After the Panthers found themselves pushed back to the 11, Olson came up big with a touchdown reception in the endzone for the game’s first score.
Powell also put together a 10-play, 78-yard drive in the second quarter. After seeing a 27-yard touchdown run by Josh Cragoe called back by penalty, and then another 5-yard score wiped off the board by infraction as well, Powell finally earned a touchdown it could keep as Cragoe weaved for 20 yards through the Wolverines’ defense.
Riverton’s only score came just 13 seconds before the half. The Panthers’ defense surrendered a nine-play, 74-yard drive that was aided by a 15-yard penalty.
For the game, Cragoe finished with 112 yards on 14 carries. Powell also threw for 113 yards as the team mixed some traditional offense with the Wildcat formation it debuted against the Wolverines in the playoffs last season.
Olson nearly topped 100 all-purpose yards as well. The senior picked up 23 yards on 10 carries, but gained 70 yards on a trio of receptions. Vince Sleep added 43 yards on 10 carries from the fullback position.
As a team, the Panthers picked up 303 yards on 58 offensive plays. Riverton was held to 216 yards on 52 offensive snaps.
Defensively, Patterson led the way with 21 points, including two solo and five assisted tackles, three tackles for loss and the scoop-and-score fumble recovery in the fourth quarter.
Cragoe added a 19-point night as he registered the other takeaway recorded by the Panthers’ defense in the contest. Vince Sleep added an 18-point night and Anthony Lujan and Brendon Phister also finished in double figures defensively.
One week after struggling in the special teams department, the Panthers saw Wichman convert a perfect 4-for-4 on point-after attempts. Powell’s only failed extra-point conversion of the night came as the team attempted to execute a fake kick for a two-point play.
The Panthers, now 1-0, will travel to No. 3 Buffalo, also 1-0, for a non-conference road game this week. Buffalo scored a 21-0 win over Worland in the season’s first week.
Tribune football contest winner announced
Jeffrey White of Provo, Utah, won the opening football contest of the year with fiveincorrect picks. Taggart Shumway, Dorothy White and Kathy White also missed five but lost to Jeffrey White by tie breaker points.
Future winners of the Tribune football contest will be announced on the football contest page published each Tuesday.