T.J. Abraham more than doubled the yardage of the Douglas Bearcats, but it was the Powell defense that carried the Panthers to their first victory of the season.
The Panthers (1-0) allowed just five first downs and 90 total yards as they shut out the offense of No. 2 Douglas (0-1) in a 25-2 home rout of the 2014 Class 3A runners up.
Abraham ran for 210 yards and a score as the Panthers put on a possession-and-defense clinic in Panther Stadium Friday night.
Powell’s unrelenting ground attack totaled 275 yards.
“If you have the ability to run the ball, why not?” head coach Chanler Buck asked. “There’s no need to put the ball in the air. On a third down situation we could still keep the ball on the ground.”
As the Panthers’ lead grew, the game increasingly fell on the shoulders of the PHS rushing attack and defense.
Douglas’ offense — known for its versatility — was rendered almost completely ineffective against Powell. The Bearcats rushed for negative 1 yard and passed for 91 — only 32 of which came in the second half.
With little information on the Bearcats, the Panthers’ defense relied on all-out effort.
“Scouting material was very limited. We know a lot of stuff they’ve ran in the past ... but we were as prepared as we could be,” Buck said. “They were having fun and they would sell out until we needed a blow, and then other kids came in and we didn’t miss a beat.”
Douglas’ only points came on a third-quarter safety.
Buck said Powell’s run defense — starting with the defensive line — sparked the near-shutout.
“They couldn’t run the ball, and again, it starts up front,” Buck said. “When they can’t run the ball, that takes a lot out of the playbook. There’s not a whole lot of good calls on third and 10.”
The Panthers, meanwhile couldn’t be stopped.
Abraham averaged 6.4 yards per carry and scored on a 1-yard run in the second quarter that put the Panthers up 16-0.
The constant threat of the junior tailback opened things up for junior quarterback Mason Olsen, who ran six times for 36 yards and a score.
Olsen ran in a 5-yard bootleg for Powell’s final score in the fourth quarter. He also threw a 15-yard first-quarter touchdown to Zach Easum to open the scoring. Olsen was asked to throw just eight times, and completed two passes for 17 yards.
Powell padded its first-half lead with a pair of second-quarter safeties.
Olsen sacked Douglas quarterback Ty Larson to put the Panthers up 9-0, and sophomore defensive lineman Max Gallager brought down Bearcat running back Tyler Picard in the end zone to send Powell into the locker room up 18-0.
The Panthers totaled six sacks against the Bearcats.
Easum recorded two sacks while Jackson Griffin, Nic Urbach, Abraham and Gallager each had one.
“This was something that was a little bit surprising,” Buck said. “We were able to get pressure time and time again with four guys.”
Abraham added four pass break-ups and picked Larson in the fourth quarter during a stretch of seven straight incompletions for Douglas.
The Panthers play host for the third week in a row when visiting Buffalo (0-1) comes to town for a 7 p.m. kickoff Friday.
“It’s nice to be home three weeks in a row and hopefully get the community fired up,” Buck said. “We look forward to being home next week and seeing a big crowd out there. They’re going to see a pretty physical and pretty talented Buffalo team.”
The Bison fell to No. 1 Cody 22-10 in week 1.