Class 3A’s top-ranked Panthers held Jackson to minus-6 yards rushing and just 57 yards of total offense in a 55-0 rout to open 3A West conference play. The performance extends Powell’s string of scoreless quarters against it to nine and left …
Panther defense blanks Jackson
Entering Friday night, the challenge for Powell’s defense was simple — slow down the leading rushing attack in Class 3A football. Jackson entered the contest averaging nearly 6 yards per carry and 265 yards on the ground per game.
Class 3A’s top-ranked Panthers held Jackson to minus-6 yards rushing and just 57 yards of total offense in a 55-0 rout to open 3A West conference play. The performance extends Powell’s string of scoreless quarters against it to nine and left head coach Jim Stringer impressed at game’s end.
“I’ll be honest,” Stringer told his team moments after the game. “If you’d told me we were going to put 55 on the board against these guys and hold them to nothing, I’m not sure I would have believed you.”
“All night, we just did a tremendous job of flying to the football,” Stringer said. “We did a good job of reading our keys and reacting. It was just an all-around good effort.”
And a balanced effort at that. Olie Olson led the Panthers’ stop unit with 13 defensive points, thanks in part to an interception on the final play of the third quarter. He was one of just five Panthers to reach double figures on defense in the contest.
Vince Sleep added 12 defensive points while Anthony Lujan, Tyler Patterson and Mike Mundy each tacked on 10 points. Cooper Wise came up with Powell’s other interception on the night.
The Panthers scored the only points they would need on their first offensive possession. A 12-play, 49-yard drive put Powell in a fourth-and-inches play from inside the Jackson 1, but a false-start penalty backed the team up and prompted Stringer to settle for a 22-yard Cody Wichman field goal.
After a 39-yard field goal attempt on the Broncs’ next possession fell short and wide, the Powell offense switched into high gear. Senior quarterback Josh Cragoe hooked up with classmate Keithen Schwahn on a third-and-5 pass play that Schwahn took 75 yards to the house for a score. On the first play of Powell’s next possession, Cragoe found Olson for a 47-yard touchdown strike.
Both passes came on called audibles.
“Josh did a great job of reading the defense and checking into some plays for us,” Stringer said. “We really hadn’t put our audible package in until Wednesday night, but he did a great job taking what we saw on film and using it out there.”
Powell tacked on a 29-yard Wichman field goal and a safety for a 20-0 halftime lead.
“We left some opportunities in the first half,” said Stringer. “Both field goals came after we were inside the 5. We made some mistakes and the kids know there’s room for improvement. We can get better.”
The Panthers will be hard-pressed to improve on their third quarter though. Powell needed just four plays to go 72 yards for a score to open the half. Cragoe’s 5-yard carry provided the final push.
Wise set Powell up at midfield with an interception three plays later, then capped a six-play drive with a 3-yard run to increase Powell’s lead to 34-0 with less than five minutes elapsed.
Cragoe and Wise linked up again with 4:44 remaining in the third period for a 25-yard score. The Panthers brought the curtain down on a four-touchdown fourth quarter with a 14-yard Olson run that triggered a continuously running clock for the final 13:21 of the contest.
After Olson’s interception to wrap up the quarter, Powell’s final score came on a nine-play, 39-yard drive where Cory Heny carried the ball across from 3 yards out. Wichman tacked on his fifth successful extra-point kick of the second half to close out the scoring.
For the night, Powell finished with 537 yards of offense. Cragoe was 10-for-13 through the air for 282 yards and three touchdowns. One of those incompletions came on a play in the end zone after it appeared junior Dewey Schwahn had corralled a tipped pass for a touchdown while lying on his back in the end zone. Officials had already blown the whistle and waved the pass off as incomplete.
Wise was Cragoe’s favorite target, hauling in four passes for 95 yards. Heny and Olson each caught two passes.
On the ground, Cragoe added another 72 yards on 13 carries. Heny added 56 yards on 10 carries as nine different players contributed to a Panther rushing attack that reeled off 5.9 yards per rushing attempt.
The Panthers improved to 4-0 this season with the victory and pick up an important conference win to begin 3A play. Powell travels west to face Star Valley this Friday.