Panther stampede

Posted 9/22/09

The intensified play along the offensive and defensive lines enabled the Panthers to pull away from a 7-7 deadlock at intermission. Powell churned out nearly 200 yards of offense in the third and fourth quarters.

The Panthers wasted little time …

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Panther stampede


{gallery}09_22_09/homecoming{/gallery}Senior Billy Harshman bursts through a gaping hole opened by the Panthers' offensive line on the way to his second touchdown of the night Friday. Powell's play in the trenches helped the team average nearly six yards per rush and helped the team remain unbeaten with a 20-7 victory. Tribune photo by John Wetzel Powell ground game rumbles to 20-7 victory The Powell Panthers took control in the trenches on Friday night to hammer out a 20-7 Homecoming victory over previously second-ranked Buffalo. The win keeps Powell unbeaten heading into the start of conference play this Friday. “We all talked at halftime and decided to fire off the ball harder and sustain our blocks more,” said senior lineman Joe Lujan. “We came out with a new ego.”

The intensified play along the offensive and defensive lines enabled the Panthers to pull away from a 7-7 deadlock at intermission. Powell churned out nearly 200 yards of offense in the third and fourth quarters.

The Panthers wasted little time in setting the tone to open second-half play. Sophomore Cooper Wise stepped in front of Buffalo's first pass attempt of the second half and picked it off to set his team up in Bison territory. Fabio Soto turned in a 31-yard run to give Powell a first-and-goal and set up the go-ahead touchdown on a three-yard pass from Keithen Schwahn to Kyle Sullivan.

Powell's defense held Buffalo without a yard on its next possession and the team once again took control of the football on a short field. After fielding the punt at the Buffalo 49, the Panthers needed just five rushing plays to cover the distance and cap the drive with a seven-yard Billy Harshman run.

That was more than enough cushion for the Panthers' defense, which turned in yet another stellar outing. Powell held Buffalo to just 163 yards of offense for the night.

The only real scoring threat of the second half for the Bison came following Powell's second score of half. After the Panthers tried unsuccessfully to surprise the visitors with an onside kick, Buffalo marched from near midfield to the Panthers' 12-yard line. Back-to-back 15-yard infractions whistled against Buffalo pushed the team well out of scoring range to end the drive.

At many times during the second half, the Bison proved to be their own worst enemies. The team drew eight flags for a total of 89 yards, much of which came after Powell had taken a two-touchdown lead.

“This was a good, solid team effort, especially in the second half,” said Panther head coach Jim Stringer. “It was really nice to see this crew come together and play as a team and get to experience the fruits of their efforts like this.”

The second-half dominance by the Panthers stood in stark contrast to the first half, which saw the two schools play to a 7-7 stalemate.

Neither team crossed midfield until late in the first quarter when the Panthers' first real drive of the evening stalled at the Buffalo 28. The Bison took over on downs and moved the ball just across midfield before having to punt.

The Panthers' Harshman was hit before fully securing the football on the return. Buffalo won the ensuing scramble for the football at the Panther 12-yard line. Four plays later, Buffalo quarterback Hayden Kessler surged into the end zone from a yard out for the first score of the evening.

Powell answered three minutes before halftime. After the Panthers' defense forced Buffalo to punt from its own end zone, Powell opened a drive at the Bison 37.

A 19-yard pass from Schwahn to Josh Cragoe to convert a third-and-10 and another key reception by Olie Olson helped set the stage for a four-yard touchdown run by Harshman.

For the night, Harshman finished with 84 yards on 20 carries. Auston Carter added 56 yards on eight carries as Powell averaged nearly six yards per rushing play for the night. Six different Panther players tallied at least one carry in the contest.

“It is especially important with the offense we run that we spread the ball around and look to keep the other team off balance and guessing,” said Stringer. “We feel like we have a good set of skilled players and we trust them with the football.”

Schwahn completed eight of his 22 passing attempts. Devin Jordan was the top target, hauling in four balls for 31 yards.

Defensively, Powell's charge was led by Reed Hackworth with 19 points. Trent Gillett added 18 and Carter joined the pair in double figures with 13 defensive points.

Buffalo entered the contest ranked second in Wyoming 3A according to the most recent Wyopreps coaches' and media poll. Powell entered the game ranked fourth overall. Both rankings will likely shift as the result of Friday's contest.

“If we play like this as a team, this shows we can go a lot farther than anyone thought we could this year,” said Lujan.

“The key is we have to take everything one game at a time,” said Stringer. “We can't get ahead of ourselves. We need to take care of our own business, keep practicing like we did this week and keep playing together as a team.”

Powell hosts Jackson this Friday. Kickoff in the contest is set for 6 p.m. The game will be the 3A West opener for both teams.