What a way to go

Posted 10/18/11

Powell unleashed a five-touchdown barrage after intermission to storm back from a seven-point deficit and pick up a 42-23 victory that clinched the team a place in the Class 3A playoffs. Senior Olie Olson accounted for three of those five …

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What a way to go


No. 3 Powell buries Cody with second-half rally

To a man, the third-ranked Powell Panthers don’t intend for last Friday’s Powell-Cody football game to be the final one played at Panther Stadium. If it had to be, though, the facility was certainly sent out in style.

Powell unleashed a five-touchdown barrage after intermission to storm back from a seven-point deficit and pick up a 42-23 victory that clinched the team a place in the Class 3A playoffs. Senior Olie Olson accounted for three of those five scores.

“This is fantastic,” Olson said after the game. “I’m originally from Cody. We hadn’t beat them while I was in school. I wanted to win this game really bad.”

It showed. After carrying the ball just one time for 2 yards in the first half, Olson ran like a man on a mission in the second half.

After tying the game early in the second half on a 4-yard Josh Cragoe run, the Panthers turned to Olson. The senior responded with a 56-yard touchdown run on the third play of Powell’s ensuing possession, helping put the team up 21-14.

The touchdown gave Powell a two-score lead with 16 minutes to play. The Panthers continued to pour it on.

“We’ve worked with him some the last couple of weeks,” Panther head coach Jim Stringer said of Olson. “At times, he’s had the tendency to round off that play and it doesn’t give him time to accelerate. Tonight, he took more of a straight line and was hitting the hole hard. People don’t realize how much speed he has.”

The Panthers’ final touchdown of the night came on a 20-yard scamper from Cragoe. The score put the Panthers in front 42-16.

Cody tacked on a late score to narrow the final gap. It was one of only two second-half possessions by the Broncs in which Powell allowed the visiting team to record a first down.

After the early pageantry of senior night and a recognition of the contest being the final regular-season game at Panther Stadium, Powell wasted little time bringing the crowd to its feet. Cragoe hooked up with Dewey Schwahn on the Panthers’ very first offensive play from scrimmage and the junior receiver weaved his way through the Cody secondary to make it a 75-yard touchdown.

From there, however, Powell’s offense sputtered. The team managed just 63 yards of offense the rest of the first half against Cody.

The Broncs matched Powell’s touchdown with 3:40 remaining in the first half on an 11-yard touchdown run. The play was set up moments earlier by a 34-yard reception on a fake punt.

The Panthers returned to the red zone early in the second quarter, but an interception killed the drive near the Broncs’ 15. Aided by back-to-back 15-yard penalties against Powell, Cody worked the ball the full length of the field for a go-ahead score with 6:35 remaining in the first half.

Cody’s final first-half points came on a bizarre play just before intermission. After the Broncs came up well short on a 41-yard field goal attempt, the Panthers picked up the still-live football and flipped it toward one of the officials standing in the endzone. When the ball bounced across the back line of the zone, it became a safety. The two points made up for a pair of Cody extra-point misses in the half, making the halftime score 14-7 in the visitors’ favor.

The Broncs appeared to carry their momentum into the second half, stopping the Panthers for a three-and-out on Powell’s first offensive series of the half. Momentum turned abruptly though when Cooper Wise grabbed a misfielded punt in stride and carried it to the Cody 27 to set up Cragoe’s first score of the night, unleashing the touchdown avalanche that followed.

Despite a first half filled with offensive struggles, the Panthers finished with 410 yards of offense in the contest, 309 of which came along the ground. Olson finished with 131 yards on seven carries. Cragoe added 114 yards on 14 carries, giving the Panthers a pair of 100-yard rushers.

Cragoe also accounted for all 101 yards of Powell’s passing offense, much of it coming on Powell’s first play of the game.

Defensively, Cody picked up 275 yards against the Panthers’ defense. Powell held Cody to 104 yards on 35 rushing plays. The Broncs did gain 171 yards through the air, but connected on just 13 of their 37 attempts with much of that damage coming either in the first half or on the team’s final possession of the game.

Wise finished with a team-best 20 defensive points for Powell, thanks in part to both his momentum-shifting fumble recovery and an interception. Cragoe and Brendon Phister each added 19 defensive points for Powell. Vince Sleep, Zach Thiel, Anthony Lujan and Olson all reached double figures for Powell.

The victory improved Powell to 6-1 this season. The team is now in position to play for a possible No. 1 seed and share of the 3A West title this Friday at Green River.

A win by the Panthers would, depending on the outcome of Star Valley’s game against Jackson, either place Powell in a three-way tie for the No. 1 seed out of the west or deliver home field advantage in the first and second rounds outright to Powell.

Kickoff in Green River is scheduled for 7 p.m.