Panthers remain unbeaten

Posted 9/15/09

Instead, the ball carrier lost his grip on the football mere feet shy of the goal line, fumbling the ball into the end zone for a Panther touchback.

Powell responded with a nine-play drive that ended with a fumble at the Wheatland 1-yard line. …

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Panthers remain unbeaten


{gallery}09_15_09/football{/gallery}With teammate Chris Rodriguez on his hip, Powell's Auston Carter runs the football against Wheatland on Friday night. Although he didn't score in the contest, Carter delivered a kickoff return to the Bulldogs' 20 late in the game to tip the field position battle in Powell's favor. Courtesy photo/Greg Wise Cragoe, Harshman score 2 TD's each in powell's 28-19 victory The Powell Panthers survived a long bus ride and a 300-yard passing performance from the Wheatland Bulldogs on Friday night to improve to 2-0 with a 28-19 victory. It was a contest that will have both teams looking back at the game film and lamenting missed opportunities. The first of those opportunities belonged to Wheatland on the Bulldogs' opening possession. After converting on a third-and-21 play to get the ball near midfield, the Bulldogs took a handoff up the middle and broke free of Powell's defense on the way to what seemed would be an inevitable touchdown.

Instead, the ball carrier lost his grip on the football mere feet shy of the goal line, fumbling the ball into the end zone for a Panther touchback.

Powell responded with a nine-play drive that ended with a fumble at the Wheatland 1-yard line. The Panthers got the ball back minutes later as the defensive unit forced a three-and-out from the Bulldogs and returned the ball to the offense at the Wheatland 28. Eight plays later, sophomore Josh Cragoe took the ball into the end zone from a yard out to record the game's first points.

Quarterback Keithen Schwahn turned in a key play on the drive. The sophomore hooked up with senior Devin Jordan for an 11-yard pass completion on fourth-and-4 to keep the drive alive.

Senior Joe Lujan gave the Panthers another golden chance minutes later, blocking a Wheatland punt to give the ball back to Powell at the Bulldogs' 9. The host team wiggled off the hook, however, as Schwahn was intercepted in the end zone on the second Panther snap of the possession.

Powell's signal caller didn't waste long redeeming himself, however. On the Panthers' next possession Schwahn kept the ball on a designed running play and raced from the team's own 35 down to the Bulldogs' 7-yard line. Two plays later, Billy Harshman carried the ball across to give Powell a 14-0 lead with 69 seconds to play in the first half.

Unfortunately, that proved to be enough time for Wheatland to get on the scoreboard.

The Bulldogs burned Powell's prevent defense for a 58-yard completion, setting up a short four-yard touchdown run just 16 seconds before halftime. The play breathed some life into the home crowd and enabled Wheatland to hit the locker room trailing by just one score.

Wheatland threatened to tie the contest on the scoreboard on its second possession of the second half. The Bulldogs drove to within five yards of paydirt before a series of three false start penalties whistled within a span of two offensive plays and a 10-yard sack by the Panthers' defense teamed up to drive the Bulldogs clear back to the 24-yard line, where the ball was turned over on downs.

Powell responded with a seven-play drive, highlighted by a 47-yard Schwahn-to-Olie Olson reception and an 18-yard Harshman run. Cragoe carried the ball the final three yards to re-stake the Panthers to a two-touchdown lead.

The Panthers maintained their 14-point lead heading into the final period, but a 16-play, 66-yard drive by Wheatland changed that. The Bulldogs capped the drive by successfully converting on fourth-and-goal from the one to trim Powell's lead to 21-13 after the point-after kick sailed wide of its mark.

Powell missed on a pair of chances to re-establish its lead. Auston Carter returned the kickoff to the Wheatland 20, setting the Panthers' offense on a short field. Powell had two cracks at the end zone from one yard out, but failed to score on either attempt as the Bulldogs dodged a bullet.

Powell got the ball back near midfield with under five minutes to play and appeared to have an opportunity to either run out the clock or drive for an insurance score. Instead, the Panthers coughed up the football at the 32 to give the Bulldogs another chance.

Wheatland moved the ball into Panther territory when Jordan turned in perhaps the play of the night for Powell.

Jordan picked off Wheatland's 31st pass attempt of the evening and raced downfield before being pulled down at the Bulldogs' 2. Harshman carred the ball across to give Powell a 28-13 lead with under two minutes to play.

Panther head coach Jim Stringer wasn't able to breathe easy for long, however.

On its ensuing possession, Wheatland needed just two pass completions to move the ball from its own 44 into the end zone for another score. Powell held fast on the attempted two-point conversion to keep the game at a two-score margin.

Wheatland also recovered the ensuing onside kick to keep things interesting. Cragoe extinguished the Bulldogs' final hopes of a rally with a late game interception that allowed Powell to run out the clock by kneeling on the football.

For the night, Wheatland finished with 407 yards of offense — more than the Panthers' defensive unit had surrendered in its two previous contests combined. Included in that total were 305 passing yards as the Bulldogs went 17-for-39 through the air with a pair of fourth quarter interceptions.

Powell countered offensively with a strong night by Schwahn. The Panthers' QB finished 10-for-16 through the air for 144 yards. He also carried the football seven times for 75 yards as Powell's offense racked up 316 yards for its most productive night of the season to date.

Harshman added 81 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries.

Powell hosts Buffalo, also 2-0 this season, for a Friday night homecoming contest.