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PANA — Pana’s swarming defense, led by Evan Swisher, number 44, wraps up Gillespie’s Joe Baglin after a short gain Friday night at Brummett Field. The Panthers defense only allowed 264 yards in total offense for the Miners in a 44-13 win as Pana improves to 3-0 on the season. At left is Pana’s Ace Armstrong, number 4 and Kyle Kuhn, number 5, iat right.
Cathy Jones Photo
PANA — The Pana Panthers shook off a slow start and scored 24 unanswered points in the second and third quar- ters as they posted a 44-13 South Central Conference win over the Gillespie Miners on Friday night at Brummett Field.
Head Coach Trevor Higgins said he wanted to improve the Panthers’ ground game this week. With 432 yards rushing – 245 from junior quarterback Max Lynch on 16 carries and another 102 by senior Austin Henschen – Higgins was pleased.
“I really thought our offense moved the ball well,” he said after the game. “I felt like our O-line (offensive line) did an amazing job tonight opening some really big holes for our running backs.”
He was eager to credit the line with the exceptional running game.
“Our right side of the offen- sive line really strong with Joel Deere and Cole Nollman. Those two kids have been working their tails off. Our center, (Logan) Gorenz is prob- ably the smartest center we had. He’s able to make calls on the line and make them cor- rectly. (Brant) Bowker is a jun- ior on the left side as is senior (Jacob) Chaurero at left tackle. Really, all of those guys deserve credit for tonight and the run game we were able to have.”
Neither team was able to put points on the board in the first quarter, but early in the sec- ond, Pana completed a 5-play, 46-yard drive for the initial touchdown of the game. The Panthers, ranked number 8 in the latest Class 2A poll among state teams, scored on a 13- yard scamper by Henschen with 10 minutes to go in the half. Bo Christer added the extra point and it was 7-0 Pana.
After Gillespie failed on their ensuing drive, Pana got the ball back at the Gillespie 42 and put together an 8-play drive with L ynch plowing his way into the end zone – his first of 3 rushing touchdowns in the game – to make it 14-0 with the Christer extra point and 3:41 left in the second quarter.
Late in the half, Gillespie got on the scoreboard after they were given a short field on a failed fake punt attempt by the Panthers who turned the ball over at their own 34. It didn’t take the Miners long to cut Pana’s lead in half, 14-7, on a 1-play 34-yard touchdown pass from Zach Reiniesch to Ronnie Monk. Ryder Koniak added the extra point with 1:40 to go in the he half.
Not a lot of time for Pana, but they utilized runs and passes to the outside and got out of bound, stopping the clock with 12 seconds showing and the ball at the Gillespie 44. Lynch took the snap and not seeing an open receiver, weaved his way up the field, breaking one tackle with a spin move and finding his way to the end zone with no time on the clock. Christer added the extra point and the Panthers went to the locker room with a 21-7 advantage.
Pana got the ball to open the second half and they marched 61 yards in 10 plays as Lynch plunged 3 yards into the end zone with 7:56 to go in the third for a 27-7 lead. The extra point try was blocked.
Christer was able to get that extra point and 2 more as he connected on a 31-yard field goal with 1:44 showing in the third to boost Pana to a 30-7 lead.
In the fourth quarter, Evan Swisher got the scoring rolling with a 46-yard jaunt to pay- dirt and the lead grew to 37-7 after Christer’s extra point with 10:57 left in the game.
Gillespie then efficiently moved the ball down the field 75 yards in 4 plays, culminat- ing with a Reiniesch-to-Collyn Oberkfell connection from 10 yards out. The extra point attempt was blocked to make it 37-13.
The Panthers added one more score on the ensuing drive. Faced with a third-and- 8 from their own 24, L ynch hooked up with Brenden Schoonover for a 76-yard touchdown at the 7:28 mark. Christer added the extra point which made it 44-13.
In addition to his running, L ynch was able to move the ball through the air. He was 10-of-20 for 154 yards. Schoonover caught two of those passes for 86 yards and a touchdown. Ace Armstrong caught 5 passes for 41 and Kyle Kuhn caught 2 passes good for 23 yards.
Pana’s stingy defense only allowed 264 total yards by the Miners. Reiniesch was 6-of-14 in passing, good for 134 yards. The Miners had 130 yards on the ground with Reiniesch and Joe Baglin getting 34 apiece. Jesse Berry had 32 yards rushing for Gillespie.
The outcome of Friday’s game was in direct contrast to the recent spring season where the Panthers needed three overtimes to subdue the Miners on their home turf, 28- 22.
On Friday, the Panthers will be on the road to take on Staunton, who were shut-out by Greenville, 37-0 Friday night. The Bulldogs are 1-2 entering the contest.